Groundbreaking Held For Community Business Hub In Austin

Rendering of Aspire Center by Lamar Johnson Collaborative

The city has broken ground on a new business development center at 5500 W Madison Avenue in Austin. Located on the northeast corner with N Central Avenue just north of Columbus Park, the new center will redevelop the now vacant Emmet Elementary School. The Invest South/West project is being developed by the team made up of Austin Coming Together, Jane Addams Resource Corp, and Westside Health Authority who are working with Lamar Johnson Collaborative on its design.

Site map view via Google Maps

View of closed Emmet School via Chicago Sun Times

The three-story masonry clad school building was closed with 48 others in 2013 due to a large budget deficit, leaving multiple properties to slowly be redeveloped over the years including those converting to residential like the Peabody School in West Town. Dubbed the Aspire Center, the groundbreaking marks the end of a multi-year process to kick start the project which started with local Austin residents donating over $22,000 to get things moving.

Rendering of Aspire Center by Lamar Johnson Collaborative

With 69,000 square feet of usable floor area, the U-shaped school will have its center infilled with a new multi-story glass atrium that will become the new front entrance in what used to be the rear. The Aspire Center is aimed to become a workforce training hub with facilities like a business incubator, advanced manufacturing training center, event space, and a community center hoping to train 2,000 workers in the next five years according to Block Club.

Rendering of Aspire Center by Lamar Johnson Collaborative

Aside from the angled glass atrium, the building will receive solar panels, a large new outdoor rooftop terrace, and a plaza replacing a large portion of the existing parking lot with space on the main intersection for a potential expansion. Once completed Austin Coming Together and Westside Health Authority will operate the center and offer services like financial, employment, and vocational training as well as a walk-in resource center.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at groundbreaking ceremony for Aspire Center via City of Chicago

The center will cover its $41 million price tag through $12 million in TIF funds and $10 million in state funds along with other sources. With work underway we can expect a completion date around the end of 2024, marking the last Invest South/West project under the Lightfoot administration.

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1 Comment on "Groundbreaking Held For Community Business Hub In Austin"

  1. Bernadine Davis | May 17, 2023 at 3:33 pm | Reply

    Seeking apartment and want to understand how to apply.

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