Demolition of center begins

The old Rosenwald Center in the B.W. Cooper housing development met its end on Tuesday when an excavator’s claw began to chew into the adjoining pool house.

A new gym and pool house will replace the forlorn structures that have rotted away since Hurricane Katrina damaged them. The existing pool will be rehabilitated. Deputy Mayor Cedric Grant said he expects the $6.3 million project to be completed by summer 2014.

“This is a major shot in the arm for Broadmoor,” Grant said. “What you’re going to see here is a transformation of this community as a result of this center.”

The center, located at South Broad Street and Earhart Boulevard, was opened in July 1950 at what was the site of the former Lincoln Playground. At the time, the center was the only such facility available for black children during segregation.

The new gym will be about 24,000 square feet and include a stage, multipurpose room, meeting rooms and a snack bar.

District B Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell said the center’s impending return, coupled with the existing on-site NFL Youth Education Town, will have a positive effect on families and children in the surrounding neighborhoods and could be the catalyst for other families returning to the area.

“It’s going to be essential to the quality of life,” Cantrell said. “This has been something that we’ve been looking for, really, pre-Katrina, in terms of a first-class facility to meet the needs of our young people.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency declared the gym and pool house substantially damaged during the storm, making it eligible for 100 percent replacement.

Grant said that $5 million in funding will come from FEMA, while the difference will come from insurance and bond sales.