Building a beacon

Posted on 19 Apr 2012 at 7:11pm

Resource Center Dallas to begin work at site of $12 million facility that will better serve LGBT community’s needs — and reflect its maturity

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FUND RAZERS | Resource Center Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox, center, poses with capital campaign co-chairs Gary Olsen and Linda Moore at the strip center that will be torn down to make way for the center’s new home. About $4 million has already been raised for the project. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

ANNA WAUGH  |  Staff Writer

After years of fundraising and planning, Resource Center Dallas will celebrate the demolition of a strip center Saturday, April 28, at the site of its new $12 million building slated for construction in 2014.

The 38,000-square-foot facility will double the center’s current place and house the Nelson-Tebedo Community Clinic, the AIDS food pantry and the Gay and Lesbian Community Center under one roof, Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox said.

Cox said the new building will only continue the work the Dallas LGBT community and RCD have accomplished in the past. The demolition at the new site is a sign of the progress of the capital campaign toward the center’s vision, she said.

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WINDOW TO THE FUTURE  | An early artist’s rendering of the new center shows its triangular shape and the glass wall that will face Cedar Springs and Inwood roads. (Courtesy of Resource Center Dallas)

“It’s a tangible sign that we are making progress and that we’re creating something with the support of the community that will serve the entire community,” she said. “This will be a better representation of what we’ve accomplished and where we’re going.”

Demolition of the strip mall that currently occupies the property now will begin at an event called “Brunch and Bulldozers” Saturday, April 28.

The event marks the beginning of the work on the new center and will increase fundraising awareness, capital campaign manager Mack Campbell said.

“After years of work and years of fundraising, we’re finally able to make significant progress toward construction by demolishing the structure,” Campbell said. “It’s a visible symbol that this campaign is happening, and the future of the LGBT community with this new building is bright.”

Fundraising began for the new facility in 2008, when the 1.75-acre site at 5714 Cedar Springs Road was purchased from the Cathedral of Hope for $1.2 million. Since then, $4 million has been raised, Campbell said. The remaining funds are expected to come from members and supporters of the LGBT community, as well as corporations and foundations, he said.

Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2014 and should last about 12 months, Campbell said. The current building at 2701 Reagan St. will then be sold, he said.

Architect Jim Langford designed the new center, a three-story structure in the shape of a triangle — an iconic shape for the gay community that also signifies the three principles of RCD’s mission: justice, equality and love.

The side of the building facing Cedar Springs and Inwood roads will be primarily glass to draw the attention of passersby to the activity inside, making it “engaging for the entire community.”

“Because of its location and the iconic shape, it really is going to be like a marker and a really important place in the city that is like a key to a bunch of doors that opens up a world of possibilities,” Langford said.

Along with improving communication and efficiency of the staff working at one location, Cox said the center’s clients will benefit from not having to travel to three places for different services.

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THIS OLD HOUSE OF WORSHIP | Resource Center has vastly outgrown its current facility, the former Metropolitan Community Church on Reagan Street it has occupied since 1989. The new site, shown on the map below, is approximately 2 miles to the northwest. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

“It’s a hardship if they are challenged with transportation and income to pay for the transportation to go to multiple places,” she said. “Now they’ll just be able to come to one.”

More space will also help accommodate the dozens of groups that meet at the center and allow services to expand, Cox said. A six-month evaluation process began in March to examine current and future programs and how best to allocate resources to them.

The new facility will also house the center’s historical archives. About 400 boxes of documents from LGBT organizations about the history of Dallas are stored off-site because the current library has no room for them, RCD librarian Sandy Swan said.

And more shelves will be able to hold the 8,000 books and growing number of materials the library offers the community as resources. The cramped space at the library with the cyber center makes it difficult for visitors to sit and work, Swan said.

The history of RCD goes back to when the Dallas Gay Alliance, now the Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance, rented space on Cedar Springs in 1983 that served as a community center, DGA co-founder William Waybourn said. The storefront was a visible location for the community and a place for groups to meet after the DGA office on Oak Lawn Avenue used from 1979 to 1982 became too small. By the mid-’80s, a clinic was operating in the 1,500-square-foot office space with a food pantry in the back, both of which stayed on Cedar Springs. After a fire in 1989 that destroyed the location, the facility moved to its current location at the former Metropolitan Community Church site on Reagan Street.

Cox said the history of RCD signified the need of the LGBT community in a time when many people were not out but needed resources. The community’s needs transformed with time as more people sought them out to form groups and it became more acceptable to be open about sexuality.

“Now we’ve really outgrown our starter home in terms of size but also in terms of the maturity of the entire community and this organization,” MAPshe said.

RCD is the fourth-largest LGBT center in the U.S. based on its budget, said Terry Stone, executive director of Florida-based CenterLink organization that supports the development of LGBT centers. As someone who once lived in Dallas, he said the expansion is a great opportunity to continue the support for the city’s LGBT community, as all centers are vital to the communities they serve.

“Having that in your community adds such power to our community and the LGBT movement,” he said. “Even though we can be out in the community, having those places that celebrate who we are make such a difference and have a huge impact in our lives and in the lives of our broad community.”

Cox said the new facility will be more open and centrally located for the surrounding community to access.

“The physical space will serve as a beacon for the community,” Cox said. “It’s going to really put a mark on the footprint of Dallas that I think more accurately represents how successful he community is and how visible it is and how much we have contributed.”

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‘Brunch & Bulldozers’

‘Brunch & Bulldozers’ will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 28 at the future site of Resource Center, 5714 Cedar Springs Road. The free event will have food, entertainment and a demolition presentation. For more info, visit RCDallas.org/brunch-bulldozer

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 20, 2012.

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