KNOXVILLE - Crews broke ground on the Knoxville Change Center on Monday morning.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said the facility reached its $3 million fundraising goal with more than 3,000 donations.
Rogero, Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and Overcoming Believers Senior Pastor Daryl Arnold spoke at Monday morning's event at 203 Harriet Tubman Street in Knoxville.
The facility will provide a safe and entertaining place for teens and young adults to hang out on evenings and weekends. Admission will also be free.
Young adults like Javon Clark, an Austin-East panel member, said seeing his dream become a reality is heartwarming.
"My whole life I've wanted to see something like this happen," Clark said. "We've got all kinds of recreation centers and places you can go, but there has never been anything like the Change Center, and I think it will really bring change."
The 20,000-square-foot building will include a multi-purpose sports venue, roller skating rink, concert stage, movie wall, game room, a Hard Knox Pizzeria cafe and more.
Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch said the center is especially important to curb violence in the city surrounding the youth.
"This culture of violence has to change and that's really what this is going to do. It's going to change that," Rausch said. "It's going to give (an) opportunity for young people to keep them off the streets, and keep them out of the gangs, and keep them from turning to violence in order to answer their disagreements and disputes so they are going to get all the training here."
The Change Center is projected to open in late 2017. Overcoming Believers Church donated the building.
Arnold and Rausch challenged each other to a skate-off once the skating rink opens, according to Rogero.
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