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DETROIT-A ground breaking is planned for later this month for a new $3 million, 20,000-sf youth and education center that a local human services agency will be the catalyst to revitalize a Detroit neighborhood.

The Arab American & Chaldean Council, will build the new facility along Seven Mile Road, between Woodward and John R. The planned youth center is the first step in what is expected to be a $27 million plan to turn that stretch of Seven Mile Road into a collection of stores, shops and restaurants to serve a growing immigrant population and others in the area.

The youth center is actually the second phase of an overall three phase approach. The first phase was the $2 million renovation of a vacant 2-story building on Seven Mile. That building, completed in 1998, now serves as the agency’s headquarters. Since that building was completed, it has served as the site of a variety of youth programs, but was unable to accommodate growing use rates, prompting the need for the new facility. Once completed, the youth and education center will offer a gymnasium, computer labs, a variety of classrooms and an art gallery. It is expected to be finished next year.

The area around the proposed new center was popular with Middle Eastern immigrants, who streamed into the area for more than 50 years, starting in the 1920s, before immigrants began moving to Dearborn in significant numbers. The AACC said the area is once again becoming popular with new immigrants.

Several area foundations are supporting the project, including SBC Communications, DTE Energy Foundation and the Comerica Foundation.

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