A long-awaited project that will invest nearly two million dollars into a Jackson neighborhood is about to get started. The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center will close to the public on Saturday, Feb. 29 so staff can prepare the facility for a full renovation of the building.
Following the closure on Feb. 29, City staff have made arrangements with two local churches so the center’s recreation programs can continue. Youth programs will take place at the St. John’s United Center for Caring, 801 S. Mechanic St., and senior programs will continue at Second Missionary Baptist Church, 304 E. Prospect St.
The MLK Center will open to the public temporarily on Tuesday, March 10, so it can function as the polling place for Ward 1 in the Presidential Primary Election, and on Wednesday, March 11, for a job fair. Following these events, construction on the building will officially begin and is expected to take place throughout summer 2020.
In January, 2020, the Jackson City Council approved a $1.9 million construction contract for the MLK Center, which is being paid for by municipal bonds. Plans call for a full renovation of the community center, including a larger kitchen, a building addition for more office space, a new roof, expanded weight room, resurfaced gym floor, and more windows throughout the facility.
Over the years, the MLK Center has grown beyond just recreational offerings, and now provides after school and summer programs, free meals, tutoring, and has become a gathering place for residents young and old. College courses through Jackson College are now offered at the center. The MLK Center has been a big part of Jackson’s south side community for over 50 years, and the center’s director, John Willis, says this investment will help the center continue to be a community resource for their next 50 years. “This renovation means a lot to the community center and the neighborhoods we serve. During the construction, we plan to maintain the same level of service we give to the community at other locations,” Willis said.
The City of Jackson will provide regular construction and recreation program updates to the community as they become available.