CANTON — There are many fond memories for Tiana Walker at the former Northeast Community Center.

She grew up on Root Avenue NE, a few blocks west. During the 1980s and 1990s, the building was a community hub for children. They used the pool, danced and played in the gymnasium.

“I made a lot of friendships here,” Walker said.

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She and a group of teachers from Crenshaw Middle School returned to the building at 2600 25th Street NE on Saturday, helping the building’s new owner with a trunk-or-treat event, as well as an open house.

NWBC will provide recreation, courses

Hassan Anderson bought the property in 2019 and is working to revive the center. It is now known as the Northeast Wellness & Business Center, or NWBC.

Anderson has a business that services and works with people with developmental disabilities and plans to use the center for her business. But he quickly understood that the neighborhood yearned to rediscover the old community center.

He wants to use the center for recreational activities, business and financial literacy classes, and workforce development programs. There is room to deliver programs and services to clients with developmental disabilities.

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Children living near the center helped Anderson realize that the building could benefit the neighborhood. As he worked to clean up the eight-acre site, neighborhood children helped with the cleanup, he said. This showed him the potential of the building.

“The main thing is that kids need something to do in the neighborhood,” Anderson said.

Saturday’s event was the first at the center. Anderson said he came up with the idea two weeks ago and was able to put it together with the help of staff at Crenshaw Middle and Youtz Intermediate schools.

Candy, pizza and games

Outside it had inflatable playrooms and a dozen vehicles with people handing out candy to the children. Inside, kids could eat slices of pizza, make hoops in the gymnasium, and view the building. The prizes were rewards for sack race winners and Anderson donated televisions in the drawings.

Tiana Walker (centre), a counselor at Crenshaw Middle School, has many fond memories of the former North East Community Center.  On Saturday, she joined other Crenshaw educators for a Halloween program at NWBC.  Allie Gates, Michelle Wagler, Crystal Carter, Kelly Jones, Walker, Candice Thomas and Robyn Patterson joined in the trunk or treat party.

Crenshaw teachers and counselors were among those who had car trunks open to hand out candy.

“We have to show them that we’re connected to the community,” Walker said. It’s good for students and their parents to see teachers in the community, she said. “It lets them know we’re accessible.”

The Northeast Community Center was built in 1974 as a non-profit operation. It featured an indoor pool, fitness center, sauna, community rooms, and gymnasium. The center relied on funding from community development block grants and it closed in 2009 when funding dried up.

Since then, the building has had several owners. Attempts were made to establish family entertainment centers and restaurants within the settlement, but none were successful.

Families wait for a slice of pizza during a Halloween open house Saturday at the Northeast Wellness & Business Center.

Anderson said he invested over $700,000 to purchase and repair the building. He hopes to work with the city on plans to expand the settlement’s reach in the neighborhood.

Township Councilman Kevin Hall, D-6, who handed out candy at Saturday’s chest or treat event, said residents believe the neighborhood would benefit from a revived center. He praised Anderson for the work he did to get the building back in shape.

“We’re going to be sure he can keep it going,” Hall said.

Contact Edd at 330-580-8484 or [email protected] On Twitter: @epritchardREP