Driving along San Fernando Road in Glassel Park, one can't help but pass a long stretch of wasteland by the corner of Fletcher Drive. A home to pigeons and gulls, it seems only the birds are benefiting from so much space.
However, Goodwill Southern California has plans to transform the 135,000 square-foot former Kmart into a community amenity: they're calling it the Community Enrichment Center (CEC) at Fletcher Square, a one-stop shop for what seems to be everything a community needs to thrive.
"We conducted a needs assessment and determined that our services and programs would benefit the community and surrounding areas," writes Sasha Itzikman, Goodwill Southern California's Vice President of Marketing and Community Relations. "The center will provide a space where we can deliver on our mission services, and our four cornerstones -- empowering individuals, advancing businesses, enriching communities, and caring for the earth."
Apart from offering career development, placement services, and technical skills classes, it will also double as a donation hub, a shopping center, a café staffed by Goodwill's trainees, and an event space for community meetings and government agencies. It will also offer e-waste recycling, shredding, and document imaging services.
Planned with existing community agendas, such as the Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan and the Cornfield Arroyo Seco Specific Plan, in mind, the center is looking to fill the needs of the Glassell Park neighborhood and beyond, to Atwater Village, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Cypress Park and Eagle Rock.
Located within half a mile of the Los Angeles River, the community center plans to complement the river's bicycle and walking path by adding 30,000 square feet of landscaping and more than 100 trees. The non-profit is still working with architects on the final details of the campus.
Set to wrap up in the first quarter of 2014, the new location would not only be home to many Goodwill operations, but it would also open its doors to a handful of community groups willing to co-locate and collaborate in the sprawling space. Ideally, the partners Goodwill is seeking are focused on employment, financial literacy and educational services.
According to the needs assessment study conducted by Goodwill, the neighborhood has a low overall educational attainment. Though 29 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher, 46.10 percent of the population only have high school diplomas or less. The neighborhood's median income, which range from $34,535 to $61,714, fares well against national poverty guidelines, but falls short when compared to a living wage guideline published by MIT that indicates any household of one adult and two children needs to earn over $56,000 to achieve a living wage. Given this new metric, almost 17 percent of residents experience poverty.
Crime is also a concern. Compared to national averages, the 17-square mile neighborhood observed by Goodwill experiences crime between 65 and 154 percent of the national average.
Goodwill's community center aims to tip the scale in favor of the neighborhood. The new flagship location would provide between 75 and 100 jobs. It would also provide services at reasonable cost to hundreds each year.
Interested community partners can read more about the Community Enrichment Center here. The deadline for applications for co-location is December 2, 5 p.m.