Alief Community Center: Here’s What to Expect

Since 2014, the City of Houston has planned to open a new community center for Alief residents. Today, after two years of construction, the Alief neighborhood center is almost complete.

“We worked with the Alief community throughout this process,” said Dimitri Karavias, manager of the capital planning and operations division for Houston’s General Services Department (GSD).

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“We are very excited to be nearing completion and that all of the hard work that the community, the City of Houston, and all departments have put into this project is going to be realized.”

For now, the official opening date of the center has not been set.

The site plan of the new Alief neighborhood centre.

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Why is it built?

The Houston City Council voted unanimously to approve construction of the center in July 2018.

The new center will replace the Henington-Alief Regional Library, the Community Center and the Alief Center for Women, Infants and Children by consolidating them all into one new building.

“This project was a big undertaking for the city,” said Richard Vella, assistant manager of the city’s general services department. “It’s the first of its kind in the city of Houston and will combine three different departments under one roof.”

The architectural firm Page designs the project and the services department supervises its realization.

A rendered image of the Alief neighborhood center.

A rendered image of the Alief neighborhood center.

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How much will it cost?

The project costs $58.5 million and is funded by the city without any federal or state support. The design of the project began in 2018 and officially started in November 2020.

Jonas Risen, the project’s lead designer, expressed the immense teamwork required to create the vision for the center.

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“This project has been both a labor of love and something the Alief community has wanted for so many years,” Risen said. “We got to hear directly from citizens what was frustrating about the existing park, what they love about it, what their aspirations were for the new park and new center and it was great.”

An image of the park area of ​​the Alief neighborhood center.

An image of the park area of ​​the Alief neighborhood center.

Andy, Page

What are the amenities?

The project is comprised of a 70,000 square foot community center with a 38 acre park behind. It will be a three story structure with two stories being interior space and the lower level being for parking.

The playground will include: a swimming pool, a skate park, a soccer field and tennis, basketball and pickleball courts.

“Residents had a huge influence on the design of the project in terms of the amenities that were provided there and how those amenities were able to support each other to leverage the program of this building into something even greater,” said risen. “It’s a wonderful project. ”

There will also be a senior center, a public library and the WIC clinic.

How important is this to the Alief community?

Alief is a low-income neighborhood with a majority minority population. Risen added that Alief is a place where “there are 80 languages ​​spoken and there are people from all over living there.”

The community center that served the neighborhood had been around for a long time, and council member Tiffany D. Thomas, an Alief ISD alumnus, and the residents of Alief felt it was time to start a new one.

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Thomas held the first community meeting in February 2014, after winning a seat on the Alief ISD school board, to pitch the idea for a new community center to residents, said in Texas Monthly.

She won a Houston City Council seat for Alief in 2019.

“It’s a community center for a reason,” Risen said. “We hope this facility will become a beacon to bring people together in the neighborhood and begin to manifest what they already have as Alief citizens.”

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Jill E. Washington