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Groundbreaking on the Castillo Center

Breaking Ground on the Leonel Castillo Neighborhood Center

Harris County will partner with Neighborhood Centers to redevelop the historic Robert E. Lee Elementary School as a community center with priority meeting space for inner-city seniors. Harris County Prescient 2 Commissioner, Jack Morman, made the determination to redevelop the school into the community center using federal funds.

Constructed in 1920 and designed by architect Alfred Charles Fin, widely known for his design of the San Jacinto Memorial Battleground Monument, the school was commissioned to become the Leonel Castillo Community Center after community members expressed a strong desire for a neighborhood center in the historic Heights area north of downtown Houston. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on Saturday, November 10 at 2101 South St.

“Neighborhood Centers is a natural fit and has a tremendous legacy of community development that is well suited to engage residents,” Morman said. “The agency’s building vibrant communities framework, its strong track record and model of partnerships with city, county and government entities, and respected community engagement model make the agency the perfect partner to help us operate and manage the center. They know how to make communities better.”

The new community center will be constructed behind the original building’s walls. The design, slated to be completed by fall 2013, will reflect the original building layout and the original entrance size. The center will be named in honor of Leonel Castillo, a former Neighborhood Centers employee, Houston City Controller and Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization Service in the Carter administration’s Department of Justice. In addition to his many accomplishments, Castillo was also the first Mexican-American elected to Houston city office.

“Houston is a diverse city with unique opportunities and this is another proud moment where we can take a collaborative approach to building something together with our neighbors and leaders to make the community stronger. We are grateful to be a part and appreciate the commissioner’s leadership to make this a reality for the Near Northside community,” said Claudia Vasquez, Neighborhood Centers senior vice president and chief program officer. “The mission of this partnership aligns with everything we do and our partnership will leave a lasting legacy for Near Northside residents and families.”