An attractive downtown teen hangout intended to reduce gang activity was unanimously approved by the City Council 13 years after it was first proposed. Successive groups of teenagers – most recently, the Teen Youth Council – have had their eye on the small city-owned building at the southwest corner of Chapala and Victoria streets, which has been alternately empty and home to the Unity Shoppe thrift store. Plans for the center were gradually moving forward, but had been scaled back from visions of a fruit smoothie bar to a utilitarian snack counter. Under pressure from an 11th-hour push by the Youth Council and former councilmember Babatunde Folayemi, city staff found extra funds in the Redevelopment Agency budget and from money leftover from refurbishing the nearby Louise Lowry Davis Center. The Contractors’ Association offered to revamp the building free of cost.

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