HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The old Bishop McDevitt High School is one step closer to becoming an all-inclusive eco-village.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday morning.
It’s a vision for change in Harrisburg, turning an abandoned high school into a place where people can work, eat, live learn and play.
“Instead of allowing our kids to go out here and shoot paintball guns, real guns, drive dirt bikes and ATVs in our streets, we need to provide an outlet for them,” said Garry Gilliam, CEO of The Bridge Eco-Village.
Gilliam, a Harrisburg native and former NFL player is leading the charge.
“For people to come, learn and have access to the things that they need, it will spur not just in this location, but all around the bridge and into the surrounding communities, all types of economic development, not just creating jobs, but creating those who create the jobs,” Gilliam said.
They expect 100 to 200 people to come through the doors every day.
“And it’s a bridge, so that group of people will flow through. A new group will come in. The local community will have access to all of our programming,” Gilliam said.
It’s about giving inner-city kids equal access to basic resources and help them grow personally and professionally.
“We’re building eco-villages and building a system of empowerment to go ahead and combat the systems of oppression that are in our society,” said Corey Dupree, COO of The Bridge.
The old Bishop McDevitt building is the first of several projects the bridge plans to undertake across the country.
“Providing a space for entrepreneurs and start-ups to come and have acceleration, incubation and go through our programming to learn how to set up their pitch decks and business plans,” Gilliam said.
It’s about bridging the gap, whether that means affordable housing or teaching young people how to grow their own food.
“I feel like it just keeps ramping up. Each week brings new challenges as well as more excitement,” Dupree said.
The plan is to do some light interior demolition this winter and then full construction in the spring.
The eco-village is slated to be completed in the summer of 2022.
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