As previously reported by Community Impact Newspaper, for 20 years The Centrum served as a cornerstone for the Spring and Klein community, hosting both church services and performing arts events for local organizations, such as the Cypress Creek Foundation for the Arts and Community Enrichment, prior to Hurricane Harvey. The 21,000-square-foot venue has since been closed to the public during ongoing renovations and negotiations with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
After receiving a $1.09 million grant from FEMA last May, church officials hosted a fundraiser in June in hopes of raising the remaining funds needed for the estimated $2.7 million project. While Norma Lowrey, the Cypress Creek Christian Church and Community Center's executive director, said the fundraiser was successful, the church still remains about $100,000 short of its goal. Despite this shortfall, construction on The Centrum was able to begin in August—three years after Hurricane Harvey flooded the venue with 2.5 feet of water.
"I'm just excited to get to this point," Lowrey said in a March 24 interview. "I think [The Centrum reopening] will give the community a shot in the arm because for the past three or four years, there has not been a space like this, and users had to go to different facilities. It's just one more step in recovery from Harvey."
Improvements underway at The Centrum include an upgraded catering kitchen, the addition of a greenroom with dressing rooms and television monitors, Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms, a renovated bridal suite, state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems, and new theater seating, among other enhancements. The venue will also be trading its burgundy color scheme for cooler blue and gray tones.
The revitalized Centrum will also feature a $330,000 floodgate system, watertight doors and sealing walls to make the venue more resilient in the event of another flood. Appliances, such as air conditioning units, have also been raised 3 feet above ground level, and hallways that had previously been carpeted will now be tiled for additional flood resiliency measures.
Originally anticipated to open by Christmas 2020, Lowrey said a shortage of labor and materials due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has delayed The Centrum's reopening. Custom-built items, such as the facility's 12 air conditioning units and lighting and sound systems, have also slowed the process, she said.
While construction will not be completely finished by April 4, Senior Minister Bruce Frogge said he is planning to welcome back his congregation to The Centrum on Easter Sunday with COVID-19 protocols, such as face masks and social distancing, in place.
"We will worship in person unless there's some sort of spike [in COVID-19 cases]," Frogge said.
Lowrey said The Centrum is hoping to wrap up construction in May in preparation for its first major event—a graduation ceremony for the Commonwealth Institute of Funeral Services scheduled for June 18. Upon completion, Lowrey said the church is eager to welcome both old and new users of The Centrum and will be ramping up a marketing campaign later this year to book graduation ceremonies, weddings, performing arts events and concerts in the refurbished 897-seat venue.
"I think people, just in this last year, have been missing this kind of experience," Frogge said. "At this point, I don't even think people care what the concert is; they just want to gather with people and participate in something."
Frogge added church staff will be planning a grand opening event for the community to see the revitalized space later this year when COVID-19 vaccinations are more widespread.
For additional information about The Centrum or to make a donation to the revitalization effort, click here.