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The community recently welcomed Edison Lofts, a nearby complex that includes affordable and market-rate apartments and a prekindergarten center. And on Saturday, officials and community members held a groundbreaking ceremony for the project’s second phase — The Edison Center.

It will consist of “a 32,000-square-foot cultural arts center with a 400-seat performing arts theater, community health clinic, after-school youth center, Festival Park outdoor green space, two small-business incubators and affordable retail spaces,” according to a news release.

And Thomas, 46, of Cypress, is planning to bring another location of his business, The Station Seafood Co., to the space.

“I have so many good feelings associated with it,” he said of having another location of his eatery in a community he grew up in. He described it as “coming full circle.”

Charity Carter, the Edison Arts Foundation’s founder, described the center as an “opportunity” guided by three core values: family, community and art.

If the kids are involved, their families come, too — and coming together, with art as a catalyst to do so, is what this change will look like, Carter said. And when families and the community come together, they can help to support its needs, said the 47-year-old Fort Bend County resident.

Mayra Bullock knows firsthand how exposure to the arts can influence a young person. The 38-year-old met Carter, who was her dance teacher, when she was a senior at a Houston Independent School District high school. She said it was the first time she’d met someone who looked like her, a woman of color, in the arts.

“Of course I’ve seen people on TV and stuff like that, but it was really my first experience in public school education where I was like, ‘Oh man, I could really do this for a living,’ and I can study it and all of that,” she said to those gathered. “So that kind of set the tone for me to pursue dance and performing arts and things like that.”

Bullock, a resident of Houston’s Greater Third Ward who is on the Edison Arts Foundation board, said in an interview that she went on to study dance performance before moving back to Houston and working with Carter on the Fort Bend Academy of Arts & Dance from the ground up. In 2008, she began dancing with the Urban Souls Dance Company, where she said she’s also a rehearsal director.

In her remarks to the crowd, Bullock spoke about the need for accessibility to the arts in communities.

“And once the community, especially our youth, realizes that there are possibilities — there’s hope,” she said. “And we all know what hope does for us. And once you have those possibilities and hope, then you feel like you can do whatever — there are no limits, the sky’s the limit.”

Bullock also noted in an interview that there would be Black-owned businesses at The Edison Center, which she said was “huge” for the community.

“No dream or no vision or idea that they have is too small,” she said.

The second phase of the project, which has a fundraising goal of $18.6 million, is expected to be finished in December 2022.

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