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April 27th 2022

Community Celebrates Grand Opening of Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center

The Ribbon Has Been Cut!

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and City Commissioner Bakari Burns kicked off the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center. Borrelli + Partners, Inc., along with Gilbane Building Company and JCB Construction, was awarded the Design/Build contract to retrofit 29,844 SF of the original Grand Avenue building and complete 66,000 SF of new construction.

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The Grand Avenue building is a two-story Mediterranean Revival building that was built in 1926 during the Florida Land Boom along with a twin school in College Park, the Princeton Elementary School. It was designated a historic landmark by the City of Orlando in 1995. Preserving the historic integrity of the original Grand Avenue Elementary School was of upmost importance for the Design/Build team.

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When the Grand Avenue Elementary School closed in 2017, the property repeatedly became victim to vandalism and eventually grew into disarray. The repurposing of Grand Avenue provides an opportunity to expand on youth and cultural programming for the Holden Heights and Parramore neighborhoods, which have historically been under-resourced and challenged by crime and unemployment.

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Hub for All of Orlando's Neighborhood Centers

The Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center features a full-sized gymnasium, a fitness studio, yoga studio, pottery studio, computer lab, teen room, kids’ room, a classic arcade, a theater and auditorium, multiple classrooms, administrative offices, multi-use conference rooms, a future recording studio, a multi-purpose cafeteria and kitchen, and a grand courtyard. Grand Avenue’s various amenities uniquely provides the community with a multitude of opportunities to expand youth and educational services. The City of Orlando offers summer and after-school programs to residents of Holden Heights and surrounding neighborhoods, as well as access to Heights Kidz Zone, a program meant to provide the community with support systems for families through recreation, sports, education, and training. Grand Avenue is also home to Orange County Early Learning Coalition's Baby Institute.

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The Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center will be the hub for all of Orlando’s 17 neighborhood centers. Staff will come here for training, and performance groups will come here to use the only theater amongst our neighborhood centers.” – Michael Pavelko, Community Center Manager.

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The center also features a new computer lab where people of all ages will be able to take courses to improve their computer skills. A partnership with Full Sail University and Valencia College has provided a recording studio. The Orlando Science Center with the support of NASA is partnering to create a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) room. Through the program, the students will have the opportunity to interact with NASA astronauts and engineers for mentorship opportunities and to showcase their weekly projects. The program will take STEM education directly to underrepresented communities and inspire the next generation.

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When we developed Grand Avenue, we envisioned a place where children would have all of the amenities and programs to help them thrive. Our partnership with the Orlando Science Center and NASA is another way we can connect our youth to education and inspire them onto careers in science and space.” – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer.

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The relocation of the Orlando Pottery Studio to Grand Avenue offers the studio with the necessary space and resources for its programs and membership to grow. The studio provides a safe and relaxing atmosphere where individuals explore, invent, learn, and create at their own pace.

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The Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center features an auditorium with seating for approximately 160 people and a theater with the original hardwood floor stage. Performance groups and various other vendors will be able to utilize the only theater amongst Orlando’s 17 neighborhood centers. The Center has plans to host programs through partnerships with the Orlando Philharmonic, Opera Orlando, the Orlando Ballet, and CFCArts.

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The new Grand Avenue Neighborhood Center includes a full-sized gymnasium with seating for approximately 900 people.

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