Metro to move on plans for an LGBT Welcome Center

By : Wire Report
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Metro Wellness and Community Centers has some landscape-changing plans for 2013 – literally.

In it’s 20th year, the organization will open a mixed-use space next to it’s Thrift & Gift retail center at 2235 Central Avenue. Soon, the vacant lot will be the new home of a bungalow-style house located a block away.

Through a donation by GSC of St. Pete, LLC, the house was granted to Metro.

“By moving the house, not only are we able to build on our partnership within the Grand Central District and the local community, but we’re able to save this beautiful historic bungalow which exemplifies so much of this district and neighboring Historic Kenwood,” said Lorraine Langlois, CEO of Metro Wellness & Community Centers.

According to local realtor Brian Longstreth, who is also a board member of the Grand Central District Association, the move has been in the works for years.

“It’s always exciting when something we’ve been talking about for several years in the community comes to fruition,” said Longstreth. “Everything seemed to fall into place. A historic home about to be torn down, the desire for Grand Central to have a 1st floor office on Central Avenue, the need for a LGBT welcome center in the area. The fact that it all happens in a saved 1920’s bungalow makes it even more special, and it only happened with the cooperation of many partners.”

Longstreth, along with his brother Jim, an agent at Your Neighborhood Realty, have helped facilitate this project with Metro and the GCDA.

This idea has been in the back of Langlois’ mind for years as well. Langlois, who helped start Metropolitan Charities 20 years ago, has always seen the need for a bigger presence on Central Avenue and the importance of a vibrant welcoming space for LGBT visitors to the Tampa Bay area as the community continues to grow.

“We are so excited to partner with our friends in the Grand Central District to make this happen,” said Langlois. “The space will serve as a welcoming hub for visitors and residents alike – providing resources for the LGBT and allied communities and expand on our mission to enhance the quality of life for those in our area.”

Metro hopes to have the house moved and in place by mid- to late-February, with plans to open the Welcome Center in the Grand Central District to the public as early as March. The building will serve as a visitor’s welcome center, community resource center and will provide office space for the Grand Central District as well as additional programming and event space. “There’s so much potential in this gorgeous bungalow,” said Langlois. “I can’t wait to see it grow into the vibrancy that already exists along Central Avenue.”

Metro’s Welcome Center in the Grand Central District will also have sponsorship and naming opportunities available for rooms along with the house itself

Metro Wellness and Community Centers currently has offices and LGBT Community Centers in St. Petersburg, Ybor City and New Port

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