The Community Collective for Houston, a newly formed non-profit organization, announces its purchase of The Power Center, a landmark building in Southwest Houston that serves as a multi-purpose event and business office venue.
For 27 years, The Power Center has been a staple in the city and has provided a vehicle for business and entertainment. Under its new ownership, The Power Center will continue to serve the community by offering a full-scale range of services in three main areas: business, education and food harvesting.
The Community Collective, the non-profit operating the facility, is led by restaurateur Chris Williams of Lucille’s and Lucille’s 1913; educator and founder of The Imani School, Patricia Hogan Williams; real estate developers Courtney Johnson Rose and Teeba Rose; and Ben Williams co-founder of Lucille’s and The Highway Distillery.
The Power Center currently houses almost 40 companies from various industries including a pharmacy, law office, barber, hair salon, printer and other small businesses, and serves as the office space for the Defender Network.
“There are so many large companies that have exited certain communities, leaving dilapidated big box buildings behind,” said Johnson Rose. “The Power Center is an example of what could be done in these big boxes – provide services to the community. We hope our venue can be a model for others.”
The building is anchored by JP Morgan Chase on one end and The Imani School on the other. Ten acres of land in the backyard will allow for the creation of an urban garden, which will serve as a teaching mechanism for students at the school.
“The Imani School is committed to developing self-confident, academically advanced, Christian leaders,” said Patricia Hogan Williams. “With the ownership of this building, it allows us to expand our programming and to serve our children by offering more programs. STEAM becomes more than just a word as we tie in all three aspects of The Power Center.”
Hogan Williams noted that children, much more than older generations, are becoming much more conscious of sustainability and taking care of the earth. Thus, having ownership of The Power Center affords substantial benefits for the Imani School and its students.
“Having a garden where [students] can source food and not just read about it in a textbook, all of those kinds of things are very important for them. We will be good stewards of this resource we’ve been given. We have a duty to make the best of the resources, to use solar energy, try to conserve water and electricity. That’s our responsibility,” said Hogan Williams, who added that with space for outdoor classrooms, the school’s classes come alive. Literally.
“The gardening takes in biology and botany, chemical changes… all of this will become more meaningful as we tie in these three entities,” the school leader added.
Teeba Rose, who is an Imani School parent, appreciates the school expansion aspect of the Community Collective’s purchase of The Power Center. But he is just as excited about what the move potentially does for improving the economics within the Black community.
“We always talk about how money circulates in other communities but not in the Black community,” said Rose. “In this case, not only is the money circulating within the Black community, but so is the education and the food. The children are learning things that will help them be more sustainable. They’re learning how to garden, compost and solve their problems themselves. This is an environment where they are educated in the school, but they’re also seeing how to be an entrepreneur and understanding how food works. They learn how to do business with one another… Kids are educated and taught how to do business with other African Americans, all in one place.”
The Power Center has a 20,000 square foot grand ballroom as well as a smaller ballroom and other event spaces including multi-purpose meeting rooms, reception and receiving areas, cocktail and executive board rooms. The ballrooms are fully versatile to accommodate lecture-style seating and banquet/cathedral style seating for luncheons, galas, conferences, themed parties, and weddings.
Award-winning restaurateur and philanthropist Chris Williams will lead the hospitality arm of the Collective. He will oversee culinary efforts and events as well as ensure the urban garden provides fresh produce for the community.
“There are so many opportunities here,” said Chris Williams. “We’re showing the full scope of the culinary world, from seed to harvest to production to responsible disposal. That will include lessons on fermenting and composting.”
The Power Center will also provide a slate of services for business owners including classes, coaching sessions, networking and guidance on obtaining capital. Renovations to the building will make it more environmentally friendly.
“One of the most significant ways The Power Center will impact the local community is through its energy efficiency. To help reduce our carbon footprint, we envision adding solar panels to the building and EV charging stations in the parking lot for electric cars. We hope to actually produce power,” said Johnson Rose.
From the vision shared by members of the Community Collective, it sounds like the Kwanzaa principles of Umoja (unity), Kujichagulia (self-determination) and Ujima (collective work and responsibility) will be on full display.
“The goal of The Community Collective is to provide an example of what we can do when we come together with a community first focus,” said Ben Williams. “By moving collectively, we become empowered so that we can in turn empower more people to reach new levels of being and higher standards of quality of life.”