Officials see bright future with expansion of Multicultural Family Center

Despite some delays, a recently completed expansion of Dubuque’s Multicultural Family Center has city officials excited for the added space and the new possibilities that come with it.

City Council members recently recognized the completion of the $1.56 million project, during which the center at 1157 Central Ave. expanded into the adjacent former Colts Drum & Bugle Corps building, providing 10,000 square feet of new space.

The majority of the expanded portion was converted into a spacious main lobby, along with a new kitchen area and multiple sectioned-off classrooms and meeting rooms.

Dubuque Leisure Services Manager Marie Ware said the completion of the project marks an exciting new chapter for the center.

“I think the best is yet to come with this new space,” she said. “This opens up a whole new array of possibilities for us, and that is really exciting.”

The center provides services and programs for Dubuque’s youth and adult residents, including teen programming, dance classes and space for local community organizations, such as the Dubuque chapter of the NAACP.

Prior to the expansion, Ware said, the center’s ever-growing number of programs created cramped conditions, limiting the ability to introduce new programs. The expansion addresses the problem by providing enough space for multiple activities and classes to occur within the center at one time.

“We were bursting at the seams,” Ware said. “This allows us to have the space where we are continuing to offer more programs but not have people on top of each other.”

City officials purchased the Colts building in 2016 for $443,000, and work on the MFC expansion into it started in late 2019. That project was delayed by the 2020 pandemic.

However, fully utilizing the expansion is temporarily on hold, Ware said, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in center staff using the extra space to conduct a limited number of programs in a socially distanced manner.

Ware said she and city staff still plan to reintroduce regular operating hours at the center in the near future, though she could not provide a date for when that will occur.

The center also continues to have unfilled positions. It remains without a director since the departure this past summer of Jacqueline Hunter. While several vacant positions have been filled, it also still has a part-time supervisor position open.

City officials espoused their enthusiasm for the project and its future positive impact on local organizations and young residents.

“I believe a lot of folks will enjoy it,” said City Council Member Danny Sprank. “It’s a very nice space that will allow for even more youth programming.”