Crews this week began renovations of a complex that will house people fleeing domestic violence, three years after the proposed project became a source of contention among residents of a nearby neighborhood who cited safety issues and fears about property values.
Work on the Resource & Crisis Center of Galveston County officially began Tuesday, when community officials broke ground at the 1204 45th St. site. The complex is across the street from the affluent and gated Cedar Lawn subdivision.
Renovations to the five-building complex, which once housed Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, should be complete in less than two years, Executive Director Selah Tacconi said.
The Resource & Crisis Center is at 1802 Broadway, but has never been in one, fixed location, Tacconi said.
“It’s taken us almost 40 years to find a permanent home,” Tacconi said. “We’re just excited to be able to provide this for our clients.”
The new complex will include buildings for administration and legal services, a dormitory, a day care center and dining hall, therapeutic services and storage space, Tacconi said.
The dormitory will accommodate 58 people, almost double what the current location can handle, Tacconi said.
The Resource & Crisis Center’s new complex will cost $4 million to renovate and furnish, Tacconi said. Costs are covered for renovations, but the second phase of the project, which includes furnishing the space, is not, she said.
Getting to this point is a huge step, but it wasn’t without controversy, Tacconi said.
The center proposed using the property as its new location in 2014. The church closed in 1992 and had been unused since 2008, when it was flooded and badly damaged by Hurricane Ike.
At the request of the Resource & Crisis Center, Galveston City Council in 2015 changed the zoning of the property, creating an overlay district that allowed the center to build a new headquarters there.
The center officially purchased the buildings from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in November 2015, to the consternation of Cedar Lawn residents. Some residents worried that the presence of the center would bring about safety concerns related to the people who are served by the center and the people that might follow them there.
The residents also argued that allowing the shelter would harm property values and said the city should find a way to get the land back on the city’s tax rolls.
Mayor Jim Yarbrough voted for the zoning change in 2015 and has since reaffirmed his support for the complex.
“Unfortunately, we have families in need for domestic issues,” Yarbrough said. “This will give them a facility to transition through. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need a facility like this, but we do.”
The Resource & Crisis Center on Broadway is near a residential area, and that facility has no problems, Yarbrough said.
“I’m quite confident they’ll do what they can to be a good neighbor,” Yarbrough said.
Tacconi said she hopes any neighborhood concerns are in the past.
“I think that the initial concern and pushback two years ago has really settled down,” Tacconi said. “I’m hopeful that all of that is behind us.”