New senior center coming to Lithonia

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The East DeKalb Community and Senior Center on Bruce Street in Lithonia will have a new building in 2021.

DeKalb County approved funding to build a new facility to replace the current senior center building at 2449 Bruce Street. The new 16,000-square-foot facility will feature a multipurpose room and dining hall with stage, classrooms, an aerobics studio and a game room.

DeKalb County officials said the project is being funded jointly with DeKalb County general funds and community development through the Community Development Block Grant Funds from Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD). The total project cost, including design and engineering, construction, site furnishings and fixtures, is approximately $6 million.

Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson said the county looked for space to build the new senior center and considered renovating the existing structure.

“But [county officials] thought that would cost more than what it was really worth, and it would be better to build a new facility,” Jackson said. “I was interested in keeping the facility in the city, so we were able to sell them the land that it’s going to be built on and that’s where it contains the ruse of the old Bruce Street School, which was the first public school for Black children in DeKalb County.”

Jackson said the county won’t demolish the historic Bruce Street building and there are separate discussions on what can be done to restore the building.

“Unfortunately, right now [the building] is overgrown, so it needs to be cleaned out and made into a useable space,” Jackson said. “We have to have some discussions with the state’s preservation organization as to what some options might be.”

The site for the new senior center is approximately 4.5 acres and will include about 100 parking spaces. County officials said commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson is leading the project and construction is anticipated to be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

Jackson said she is hoping they will be able to break ground for the project before the end of the year.

Read the full story on TheChampionNewspaper.com.