Jesus Center announces plans to relocate

Chico's Jesus Center is moving to a new home on Fair Street. It's a dream that's been in the works for more than a year, but a different location than originally planned. Jesus Center Executive Director Laura Cootsona joined Linda Watkins-Bennett via Zoom with the details.

Posted: May 4, 2020 5:12 PM
Updated: May 5, 2020 12:53 PM

CHICO, Calif. – The Jesus Center will be moving its primary services to a new location after two organizations came to an agreement Monday.

Work Training Center has agreed to the sale of 6.2 acres of property and buildings along Fair Street that will allow The Jesus Center to relocate its primary services, according to a press release.

The new location will provide the center the much-needed space to move forward with the development of its Renewal Center, where multiple service organizations will be able to co-locate to offer help to those struggling with homelessness.

Jesus Center Executive Director, Laura Cootsona said the Jesus Center building on Park Avenue has been sold.

"That building is going to be brought down and transformed into an affordable housing complex, with about 58 apartments to serve low-income residents," Cootsona told Action News Now.

For the past 18 months, the Jesus Center has been in escrow on a four-acre lot owned by the city of Chico.

During a press conference Monday, Chico City Manager, Mark Orme said they have determined that it's not feasible to move forward on its location adjacent to the Torres Shelter and California Water Company on MLK Parkway.

“The City of Chico has been an ardent believer in the Renewal Center concept from its inception," Orme said. "Although the anticipated site on Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway was not able to work out as quickly as we had hoped, City staff is looking forward to the prospects of this new Fair Street location. With the level of trust that has been built in this effort and the continuing collaboration, led by the Jesus Center, we have a sincere hope that the vision of building a program and facility to augment programs now available to those struggling to end their homelessness will be brilliantly achieved.”

Work Training Center said the Jesus Center hopes to move its current operations into the existing Work Training Center buildings no later than early 2021.

"It is exciting when a transaction of this nature can provide such a solid win-win for two organizations who work so diligently to care for people who are disadvantaged in our community," Work Training Center members said in a press release. "And ironically, after searching for just shy of four years for a place to relocate their base of operations and expand services for the homeless, the Jesus Center will end up just one mile from its current location on Park Avenue."

Cootsona said the Renewal Center is a chance to continue the work of the Jesus Center with a focus around sober sheltering.

"They will be able to expand the overall shelter beds for the community, bring in county offices right into a one-stop opportunity for folks to come to get a variety of services," Cootsona said. "There will be medical facilities, as well as physiological, and rehab facilities all combined."

Click the video player above to listen to the full interview with Action News Now Linda Watkins-Bennett and Laura Cootsona.

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