It’s game time for the Marvin Williams Center. The $6.4 million project, to include a gymnasium and job skills center, will break ground July 7 at the corner of Park Avenue and 8th Street.
“We’re ready and boy are we excited,” said Larry Robertson, pastor of Emmanuel Apostolic Church, which is spearheading the project.
It’s been a long road for the New Life Development Agency, the development arm of the church that has been planning the community center for more than a decade. Once opened, the center will provide everything from job training to a place for teens to play after school. It will be named for Williams, a longtime NBA star born and raised here.
Donations and state funding have poured in for the center in recent years. The State Legislature funded $1.6 million of the project in its capital budget in 2013; donations have from from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Trust, the family of teacher A.Y. Petter and Williams himself.
The center was $755,000 away from full funding last October, following a $100,000 from longtime developer Tim Ryan. But in the time since, several large donations have rolled in, including $112,000 during the Kitsap Great Give. Robertson said the organization is still short the project’s $6.4 million price tag, but by an amount it is confident it will reach in the coming months.
Williams, the center’s namesake, just finished his 11th season in the NBA, and enters the summer in free agency. He called this past season “probably the most fun year of my career,” helping the Hornets amass a 48-34 record with nearly 12 points a game. The team recently lost a a nail biter of a first-round series to the Miami Heat, 4-3.
The groundbreaking will be at 5 p.m. July 7. Robertson said construction should take nine months.