After nearly two decades in a basement, the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland on Friday will officially be out in its new home.
The spacious 15,000 sq. ft, two-story building with lots of windows in the Gordon Square Arts District is a far cry from that basement.
The center will still offer outreach, education and training programs, as well as new programs taking advantage of more space and amenities like a state-of-the-art kitchen.
The center is for the LGBT community, but also for the greater community, Executive Director Phyllis Harris says.
“It's a welcome, affirming space that is for use by the community,” Harris says. “We're not elitists. We don't want to make it hard for people to get access. There will be coffee here, you know. There will be smiling faces people, teaching you how to use the amenities available and teaching the community member how to take care of our buildings.”
Harris says a person she calls an "anonymous donor" donated close to $5 million for the purchase and demolition of the previous building in order to make way for the new construction.
Board Chairman Bob Sferra designed an open kitchen to allow for cooking classes.
“It's specifically focused for our youth group and for our senior group, because a lot of what they do is kind of get together and have lunch. So they could go in there and have an eight foot work table," Sferra says. "Everyone have an assignment to make something and what we're hoping to do is work with some of our neighbors to do cooking classes, be they recreational or part of a program.”
The LGBT Community Center originally opened in 1975.