Mayor Scott, Rec & Parks Announce Renovations for Chick Webb Memorial Rec Center - Part of City's Rec Rollout

Crest of the City of Baltimore

Brandon M. Scott
Mayor,
Baltimore City
250 City Hall - Baltimore Maryland 21202
(410) 396-3835 - Fax: (410) 576-9425

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

BALTIMORE, MD. (Wednesday, May 24, 2023) - Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott, Baltimore City Recreation & Parks (BCRP), and the Department of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) announced plans to renovate East Baltimore's Chick Webb Memorial Recreation Center. It is the second of four recreation centers slated for renovations in connection with the City's Rec Rollout. Built in 1947, the Chick Webb Memorial Recreation Center served as the first community center and pool for African Americans in segregated East Baltimore. The Center was named after William Henry "Chick" Webb, a renowned drummer and jazz bandleader known as the "King of Swing." According to the Baltimore City Commission for Historical and Architectural Preservation, Webb worked to raise funds to build the recreation center for the East Baltimore community. Although he passed away in 1939 - before raising enough funds for the facility - Dr. Ralph J. Young, Webb's doctor, and others continued working to bring the recreation center to fruition. This recreation center renovation is part of the larger Perkins Somerset Oldtown (PSO) Transformation Plan. PSO's Transformation Plan calls for the creation of a vibrant, mixed-income community that includes a new City Springs School, park, and green spaces - an investment of $30 million. "Renovating this recreation center is not only a win for Perkins Somerset Oldtown, but it's also a major victory for Baltimore as a whole. Advancing this project demonstrates our commitment to providing all residents with an environment to thrive and better engage their community," said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "Transformation is happening throughout this area, and I'm pleased that upgrading the historic Chick Webb Memorial Recreation Center is a central component of revitalizing and strengthening this community." Improvements to the recreation center include a new multipurpose gym/event space, exercise studio, basketball courts, exhibition space, and classrooms in addition to an upgraded swimming pool and locker facilities. The revamped recreation center will also feature a recording studio honoring the Center's namesake. "We're excited about the plans that are on tap to modernize the Chick Webb Memorial Recreation Center. Projects like these directly align with our commitment to offering top-notch recreation centers for our residents right in their neighborhoods," said BCRP Executive Director Reginald Moore. "The City is grateful to the community and our partners for working with us to make our collective vision for this revamped recreation center a reality." In January 2023, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved a Section 108 Loan Guarantee in the amount of $12,240,000 for the expansion and renovation of the recreation center. Section 108 Loans provide cities with low-cost, long-term financing for economic and community development projects that primarily benefit low- and moderate-income persons. Additionally, the project - which is estimated to cost nearly $20 million - received approximately $3.1 million in City bonds and $4.3 million in State funding through Project Open Space. "The Chick Webb renovations illustrate the amazing outcomes that happen when the community, City agencies, State Government, and the Federal Government work together. This effort truly demonstrates the power of partnerships," said DHCD Commissioner Alice Kennedy. "DHCD is pleased to be able to partner with Recreation and Parks and to use our Community Development Block Grant funds to build modern-day, state-of-the-art rec centers that every neighborhood deserves. I am grateful to all of the community members who participated in more than 35 community meetings to help shape the vision for Chick Webb." In 2017, the Baltimore City Planning Commission designated the recreation center as a City landmark. Renovations are set to begin in June and are expected to take two years to complete. BCRP's Rec Rollout includes a playground ribbon cutting and a series of groundbreaking celebrations announcing upcoming recreation center projects. The City is slated to announce upgrades at Ambrose Kennedy and Parkview Recreation Centers in the coming weeks. For event registration, and to stay up-to-date with these events and more, visit https://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/recreation, and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @Recnparks. About Baltimore City Recreation & Parks Baltimore City Recreation & Parks (BCRP) is Baltimore's leading provider of affordable, year-round recreational activities. BCRP builds a stronger Baltimore one community at a time through conservation, well-being, and social equity. BCRP manages and maintains 263 parks, 51 recreation centers, 25 miles of biking and hiking trails, and approximately 4,700 acres of parkland. To learn more about our programs and services, visit http://bcrp.baltimorecity.gov/.

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