DeKalb’s condemned Edgebrook Manor Apartment complex could become community center

December 31, 2018

DeKALB – Annie Glidden North Revitalization Plan organizers have their eyes on 912 Edgebrook Drive, the former Edgebrook Manor Apartment complex, as a potential site for a community center.

Among a number of vacant and decrepit buildings the city of DeKalb owns is a 47-unit apartment building on Edgebrook, condemned in 2014 because of numerous safety violations. The city purchased the property in 2017, amid divisive public pushback because of its $190,000 price tag and the $300,000-plus asbestos abatement and demolition costs that went with it. A driving force behind the push was the city’s desire to continue revitalization efforts in the troubled Annie Glidden North neighborhood.

Now, the city is making good on its intentions, and the Edgebrook property is among those sites listed in the approved revitalization plan, which still is in the conceptual stages, to consider for public and privately-funded improvement efforts.

The plan identifies 912 Edgebrook as an ideal location for a community center, but does not specify whether the center would use the existing building frame or require a new building.

The planning has led to the consideration of 10 core projects, and 45 overall, meant to improve transportation, infrastructure, open space, community services and safety in the neighborhood in the northwest part of DeKalb, as well as attract new housing and commercial development there.

“Due to its central location, the property provides an opportunity to create a mixture of uses including community services, neighborhood gathering space and shared parking for surrounding residents,” according to the community center listing in the plan.

The current city zoning ordinance does not include a designation for community facilities for its approved permit uses, the document shows.

Those working on the Annie Glidden North task force, as well as Camiros Ltd., the consulting agency the city hired to oversee the planning portion, cited a case study conducted at the Fowler Center in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

The center is not a community hub in the heart of south-side Bethlehem, near Lehigh University, and according to the plan documents, services 30,000 people yearly, with a varying range of educational opportunities.

“Over the years, the building’s uses have morphed as the community’s needs have evolved,” reads the plan document. “Featured programs include the Hospitality Career and Leadership and Executive Development Institutes, and programs in public safety, health care, adult literacy, and workforce training.”

The Fowler Center was purchased by Northampton Community College in 2005, a move the case study credits as “a catalyst” for subsequent development and re-investment in the area.

That kind of community stakeholder cooperation is what Annie Glidden North Revitalization plan organizers are seeking.

“Planning efforts [for a community center] should be conducted in cooperation with social service agencies such as those already engaged with University Village,” reads the revitalization plan document.

During a City Council meeting in October, the council was presented with its annual review of city-owned properties and parcels to review for potential sale or other uses.

Edgebrook is listed as requiring an environmental remediation, which will be estimated to cost more than $400,000.

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