The historic building that housed Odell’s nightclub in Baltimore is being renovated into an arts and community center, bringing a new headquarters for two education orgs to Station North.
On Monday, leaders held a groundbreaking ceremony for the $6.6 million project. The building will serve as the new HQ of computer science education nonprofit Code in the Schools and the arts education-focused organization Young Audiences of Maryland.
The building was once the historic disco club Odell’s from 1976 until 1992. For the past 28 years, the 1,800-square-foot space has stood vacant on North Avenue between St. Paul and N. Charles Sts. Now, it’ll have community space, classrooms and office space.
Purchased in 2017 by a joint venture between Jubilee Baltimore and Property Consulting, Inc., the companies are now renovating the building with the help of funding and partnerships from a variety of different grants and organizations.
Funding for the renovations came from sources such as an $800,000 grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, $400,000 from Central Baltimore Partnership, a $350,000 grant from the Central Baltimore Future Fund, a $200,000 grant from the Abell Foundation, and a $200,000 grant from the France-Merrick Foundation. The developers also received a $1.9 million Neighborhood Impact Investment Fund loan, as well as federal historic tax credits, Maryland Historical Trust tax credits, and New Markets Tax Credits.
“The tradition, was as my mom would say is ‘You’ll know when you belong.’ That was the saying at Odell’s,” Mayor Brandon Scott said at the Monday afternoonceremony. “What Young Audiences and Code in the Schools and everybody involved in this project is doing is telling our young people that they belong expressing themselves in art, they belong coding in their city along North Avenue.”
The renovations are expected to be finished in the fall, making way for the community center to open.
The new space will allow Code in the Schools to expand operations from two classes per semester to eight, and expand content areas to cybersecurity, digital forensics and data science, adding more space and bandwidth for the 7,000 youth the organization already serves.
Code in the Schools opened a headquarters in 2015 at the Centre Theatre, another Baltimore cultural landmark-turned-creative hub on North Ave. It put the nonprofit in the midst of the neighborhood’s artists, makers and entrepreneurs, while also being located near the Baltimore City Public Schools HQ just down the street. Now the org can expand, without having to move far at all.
“We knew to be able to serve the young people in the way our staff and our board had laid out we would need more space, but we hated the idea of leaving our current home on North Avenue, which is right across the street. So when this opportunity came along we jumped at it,” Gretchen LeGrand, CEO of Code in the Schools, said at Monday’s event.
You can check out the ceremony of the groundbreaking of the renovations here.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.