SCHENECTADY — A community fixture apparently is here to stay.
The Carver Community Center has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places following a review by the National Park Service.
“What this means is that Carver is not going anywhere,” said Sheila Rivera, board member for Miracle on Craig Street, the non-profit group working to reopen the building. “That structure is going to stand. It’s great for Hamilton Hill — we knew that the building was special.”
The Carver Community Center, which has also been awarded a similar state designation, closed in 2013 because of financial problems.
“It was a central part of Hamilton Hill for a long time,” said city Historian Chris Leonard. “When it closed a few years back, it was a tragic loss.”
Miracle is embarking on a full rehabilitation of the structure at 700 Craig St. and to resurrect its role as a neighborhood center of art, culture, youth activity, athletics, educational programming and other services, including access to social workers.
The designation will aid with funding for the $1.5 million effort.
Work has been humming along despite the pandemic.
New murals have enlivened the exterior walls and interior work is ongoing.
“The restoration is well underway,” said Travon Jackson, president and managing director of BlueLight Development Group, which is serving as a consultant to Miracle. “We’re anticipating at the top of 2021 all utilities will be completed and the interior work done.”
Miracle envisions a soft opening this spring before firmly opening later in the summer.
Once the community gets a glimpse and offers feedback, they’ll outfit the center with additional furnishings and design cues as part of the first phase, which will cost about $400,000.
A second phase would focus on non-essential exterior improvements, including paving.
The city deeded the building to Miracle last year with a two-year reverter clause that would return the building to city ownership if the non-profit fails to complete the rehab.
Jackson said work is on track and hopes its rebirth will serve as an example of development that benefits everyone, not just commercial businesses or apartment developers.
“We hope this brings optimism for the future as well as in terms of the development of what they’ll see in their backyard,” Jackson said. “It shows community development can look like public space that’s free to use.”
Miracle will raise revenue by renting out some space, and aims to prioritize support for Black-owned businesses. Several have expressed interest in opening once rehab is completed, Rivera said, while others have signed letters of interest.
“I think the community has been waiting, and I think the excitement is growing,” Rivera said. “There’s a lot of nostalgia around it.”
Fundraising efforts are ongoing.