New Boys & Girls Club headed toward completion
On a whirlwind tour of the Alameda Boys & Girls Club’s new facility, executive director George Phillips saves the best for last.
“This is my favorite space. The game room,” Phillips says, beaming as he reels off a list of activities to take place in the space, which is now demarcated only by steel beams, covered skylights and an expanse of dusty concrete floor. “I call it the decompression chamber.”
Construction is proceeding apace on the club’s new $8 million, 25,000-square-foot home on the old Woodstock School site on Ralph Appezzato Way, and Phillips expects to be ready to open its doors sometime around Valentine’s Day. When it opens, he’s hopeful the club will be a gathering place both for thousands of kids who could use a little of the club’s direction and the community as a whole.
Phillips will offer tours at 5 p.m., 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. Wednesday to show off the progress being made on the club’s new home – and make his pitch for donations. The club has raised $7 million of the $10 million it needs to pay construction and programming costs for the new facility.
Anyone interested in checking things out can park in the lot between the construction site and the Bay Area School of Enterprise (enter at Third and Brush streets).
The roughed-out spaces start with an entryway that will be dedicated to Giants pitcher Dontrelle Willis, an alum who donated $250,000 to help get the clubhouse built. The front of the building will also house a welcome kiosk and a snack bar to be run by middle school students that was sponsored by Alameda County Industries.
The building will also house a teen area with computers and couches, a coffee bar and a weight room; music and media arts rooms; a community meeting room and offices for club staffers and local nonprofits; and a dental and medical screening clinic.
It will also have a nearly 8,000-square-foot gym with retractable bleachers and windows that can be opened and closed electronically, to be used for “any sport you can play indoors” or special events for up to 300 guests. Special events can be served by the facility’s planned commercial kitchen, which will also be used as a learning space and to serve free lunches to low-income kids over the summer.
“We tried to make this building as flexible as we could. The building is very adaptable,” Phillips said.
Services will be provided in part through an array of partnerships the club has secured with a host of area nonprofit agencies and service providers. Phillips said he has signed up more than a dozen dentists to provide dental services and that he is working with Alameda Hospital to provide flu shots, preventive screenings and other health services, for example. The club is also partnering with Alameda Family Services to provide counseling services, he said.
The club will also share use of the building with the Alameda Unified School District, which leased the land to the club for $1 a year, and the city, which offered $1 million of its Measure WW regional park bond money to help pay for the facility. Phillips said the city has rights to the building for 20 hours a week, and is so far planning to use it as a space for adult sports on nights and weekends.
The building replaces the club’s old facility on Lincoln Avenue, which would have required expensive earthquake repairs to continue operating. Phillips said he wanted to move to the West End because he’d be closer to the kids who need his services. He pointed out that the club’s new home is right across from the BASE charter school and behind Chipman Middle School, and a few blocks from Encinal High, Alameda Community Learning Center, Nea Community Learning Center and Paden and Ruby Bridges elementary schools.
Phillips said he expects the club will serve up to 350 youths ages 6-18 a day, and about 3,000 a year – far more than the club’s old facility.
“This is obviously a bigger and more appealing place,” Phillips said.
More information on the club is here.