Backers of the project to revitalize the Q House, a proposed community center on Dixwell Avenue, announced a price tag of $13.4 million to fund the project in late December — a sum that they will lobby the state capitol to partially back.
A steering committee, led by Ward 22 Alder Jeanette Morrison and Ward 1 Alder Sarah Eidelson ’12, has been leading an effort to revive the Q House after the original building — whose interior had fallen into disrepair — was left unoccupied for the past decade. After unveiling a plan to construct a new community center in the old Q House’s place in October, the steering committee commissioned architectural firm Zared Enterprises to determine how much the proposed plan would cost. The firm determined in late December that the combination of tearing down the old building, constructing the new building and furnishing its interior would cost over $13 million — a figure significantly higher than the committee’s original projection of $9–10 million.
To offset the increased cost, alders have proposed leasing some of the space in the new Q House to private businesses, as well as allocating space for the Stetson Branch of the New Haven Public Library, which will move from its current location across the street. The library’s relocation will help backers of the Q House secure state funding, as the state allocates money to library construction in distressed communities, according to city architect Bill McMullen.
Morrison said she also plans to lead a delegation of supporters on a bus ride to Hartford, where they will lobby state legislators for additional sources of funding.
“The community has really been organizing and fighting to reopen [the Q House] ever since it closed down,” said Eidelson, chair of the Board’s Youth Services Committee. “Getting to this point has really been a priority for the board as a whole.”
In July 2013, the steering committee contracted Zared Enterprises to assess the best path forward to revamp the dilapidated building. Zared reported that the cost of bringing the building up to current safety code would exceed $5 million. The steering committee then opted to push ahead with a full-fledged reconstruction project, which they originally thought would cost about double that of renovation.
The plan to reconstruct the Q House has garnered widespread public support, with hundreds of residents attending public meetings and 79 percent of 70 respondents indicating that they support the joint community center-library plan in an October New Haven Independent poll.
The new Q House will serve local residents aged “one to 100,” Morrison said. She said the new community center will house several social service organizations, including a career counseling center and access to mental healthcare.
She added recreational offerings will range from art programming to after-school programs and mentoring for local students.
“Sometimes you don’t want to go back to the school where you’ve been all day. Sometimes you want a community center to go to,” said Ward 29 Alder Brian Wingate. Wingate said he used to play basketball at the old Q House as a youth.
The Q House first opened in 1924.