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Home / Bobby Bonds Park

Riverside receives $25 million to renovate César Chávez center

Major renovations to the César Chávez Community Center at Bobby Bonds Park are on imminent following the Riverside City Council’s unanimous vote on Tuesday to accept $25 million from the state.

The funding was included in the state budget last year and received support from former Assemblyman Jose Medina, Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes and the Riverside Arts Academy, according to an announcement from the city of Riverside. The council’s action Tuesday was to approve an agreement with the state that allows the money to come to the city for the purpose of renovating the Chávez center.

“This project will transform the center as a gathering place for our community, including students of the Riverside Arts Academy,” Mayor Patricia Lock Dawson said in a statement. “We greatly appreciate the work of our state representatives in bringing these funds home to Riverside.”

After completing design work and competitive bidding for the renovation project followed by the permitting process, construction is tentatively scheduled to start in December 2024 and conclude in March 2026, according to the city.

“Work on the 95-year-old building could include replacement of the original heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system, electrical, plumbing, roofing, and other major building systems; hazardous materials abatement of lead and asbestos materials throughout the structure; updating the building and adjacent outbuildings up to current building codes; Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessibility improvements; and installation of broadband internet,” the city’s announcement explained.

Another planned phase of the project is designing and building “reconfiguration of rooms and floor plans to support the Riverside Arts Academy, including the creation of performance spaces from existing rooms, acoustic enhancement of performance spaces for multiple instruments, and improvement of the existing the 1928 auditorium as a performance stage,” the city reported.

The Riverside Arts Academy is a nonprofit organization that offers lessons in dance, music and visual arts for students ages 3-17. Classes include ballet folklorico, hip hop/jazz, keyboard, guitar, violin, cello and art.

“The César Chávez Community Center is in the heart of the Eastside and is a critical hub for our community,” Mayor Pro Tem Clarissa Cervantes, who represents the area, said in a statement. “I look forward to our City putting these State funds to good use in creating a state-of-the-art facility for our youth, parents, and all residents. This funding is a dream come true.”

The Chávez center was originally constructed in 1928 as University Heights Junior High School and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the city of Riverside. The school closed in 1972, and the city purchased the building for a park facility in 1976. 

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