Grand Opening of BakerRipley center

Participants in the Ribbon Cutting ceremony included Marc Shapiro, Murray Bowden, Armando Walle, Claudia Aguirre, Gwen and Ed Emmett, and Sylvia Garcia.
Participants in the Ribbon Cutting ceremony included Marc Shapiro, Murray Bowden, Armando Walle, Claudia Aguirre, Gwen and Ed Emmett, and Sylvia Garcia.

ALDINE – The much anticipated opening of the BakerRipley Community Center in East Aldine took place last Saturday.

In spite of a heavy rainstorm that delayed some, a crowd of several hundred local residents, financial backers and county dignitaries took part in the opening ceremonies.

BakerRipley CEO Claudia Aguirre thanked all who had helped raise funds and supported the idea of a community center for the Aldine area over the last four years.

Aguirre said that “the BakerRipley Campus is a blueprint of what is important to this community,” referencing community meetings where residents told of their needs and desires for a community facility. She said she admired the Energy and Spirit of the Aldine community, and that future leaders would take advantage of the opportunities offered by the new BakerRipley center. She said that BakerRipley was there because “East Aldine District had the Vision” to imagine the center.

Fundraising chairman Marc Shapiro said that the center was there because BakerRipley goes where it is wanted, and the community clearly asked for the resource.

Judge Emmett said the county was glad to participate, and credited Armando Walle with the impetus for the center. He noted that Walle grew up in the area, and had a clear vision of the need for such a facility, and enlisted the help of the other partners. Walle met with then CEO Angela Blanchard and they worked together on a plan to accomplish the center.

Walle modestly said, “All I did was plant a seed,” and credited East Aldine District for their help.

The new center consists of three buildings on a 7 acre campus. In their own words, “it is a place of welcome, engagement and collaboration where neighbors can enjoy a variety of holistic programs, resources, and services.

“Individuals of all ages – from youth to seniors – will have access to tools and equipment for digital fabrication in the Fab Lab Houston.

“Entrepreneurs will learn how to start or expand their business, adults will find continuing education opportunities and youth will be able to develop their leadership skills. Fueled by the entrepreneurial spirit of East Aldine, the center will be a place for neighbors to learn, make and sell – a unique hub for innovators of all ages.”

The center noted that membership is required, at $150 for families, and $35 for Seniors and Youth.

The BakerRipley East Aldine center has been in the planning and construction stages for over 4 years, and is part of a 61 acre Town Center campus that the East Aldine District planned for the community. It is expected to serve approximately 5000 people each month at full operation.

Partners in development of the Town Center campus include East Aldine Management District, Lone Star College, Aldine ISD, and the Harris County Sheriff’s department.

The center will have adjacent retail space, including a new Joe V’s supermarket.

AERIAL VIEW of the new BakerRipley East Aldine Campus.