Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center to undergo $50 million renovation and expansion

Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center rendering
This rendering shows how the campus for the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston will look once completed. (Courtesy Gensler Architecture & Design)

This rendering shows how the campus for the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston will look once completed. (Courtesy Gensler Architecture & Design)

Image description
Construction on the renovation and expansion project for the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center is planned for September. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
September 2020 is the expected groundbreaking date for a $50 million renovation and expansion project for Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center, the organization announced in a news release on Feb. 27.

The project will follow a multiphase rollout, with a focus on creating a central and welcoming experience, expanding core program spaces, enhancing security and accessibility into and around the campus, mitigate against future flooding, and provide a more modern destination for members, according to the news release.

“We see this as the next phase of reinvestment in the neighborhood and the community for generations to come,” said Joel Dinkin, CEO of the community center.

Construction will consist of a new 126,000 square-foot, three-story facility, according to the release, with 27,000 square feet of renovations to the existing center. A new building for the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston will also be built on the north end of the community center property, Dinkin said, taking up the same 10,000 square-foot footprint as the old building. The old building, as a result, will be demolished, and the space will become part of the next complex and be used as an access point into the new property.

One of the main drivers for the renovation and expansion is flood mitigation, Dinkin said, especially after Hurricane Harvey caused extensive damage to the community center in 2017.

In fact, the JCC had developed a master plan in 2016 with a goal of engaging members and community in new ways, but Harvey cut the plan short. In 2019, that work resumed.

Gensler Architecture & Design has drawn up the design, which features a new building configuration, and includes a family-focused aquatic complex, new culinary studio, and dedicated fitness area, among others improvements.

This will be the first time the 50-year-old building has received a major renovation in 15 years, Dinkin said, since the community center renovated its fitness facility, outdoor pool complex, and some of the Joe Weingarten Building.

Over 80 families have already invested over $36 million into the project as of February 2020, with a goal of $50 million to achieve the scope of the project’s vision, according to the news release.

Services will not be affected this summer, according to an announcement by the JCC on the project, and when construction does begin, the community center will communicate as to which services and programs need to be transitioned to alternate locations.

“We need to remain open and fully accessible throughout this process, and we’re working with our general contractor on that,” Dinkin said.

Construction is expected to take two years.

Anyone looking to support the renovation and the organization’s mission can contact the JCC’s Chief Development Officer, Anita Bormaster, at [email protected].
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


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