New community center plans for North Stockton

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A long-vacant North Stockton building is receiving a facelift and renewed purpose with aim at improving the lives of the city’s youths.

The 30,000-square foot space at 428 E. Hammer Lane was home to Copeland’s Sporting Goods until the business closed in 2006.

By this time next year it will serve as a hub for community outreach programs and the site of a 15,000-square foot gym.

The project is being spearheaded by Lakeview Assembly Church in Stockton, which already runs the nonprofit Lord’s Gym, a 7,500-square foot gym located on Tommydon Street, less than a half mile away.

“Every membership will keep a teenager off the streets and in a safe environment with a positive direction,” said Joey Steelman, Lakeview Assembly’s head pastor and founder of local Lord’s Gym.

Steelman said he’s had his eye on the site for some time.

“I always thought the Copeland’s building would be a great facility for a center like this,” he said. “And it’s a wonderful thing that Stockton needs.”

Although initial negotiations with the owner began in 2009, talks stalled until last year.

Lord’s Gym will relocate to the old Copeland’s site and double its size by adding an indoor basketball court with retractable bleachers and a boxing ring that will be used by Stockton’s Police Athletic League to run youth camps.

The new, bigger gym will also allow for martial arts classes and a possible “midnight basketball” program.

After school tutoring will be available in a learning center and computer lab which will feature wi-fi.

All high school and middle school-aged students in the Stockton Unified School District will have access, as vans will pick up and drop off students for four-hour stretches daily.

In addition to youth education, GED classes will also be offered to adults.

The remaining space will include a daycare center for volunteers and members with children and two game rooms.

One game room will hold up to four pool tables while the other will feature an assortment of classic arcade games as well as multiple television screens for gaming options.

Randy Turrentine, assistant manager of Lord’s Gym, estimates the move from Tommydon to Hammer Lane could double gym memberships as a result of the higher traffic flow.   Membership fees go towards supporting the modest-sized learning center at the current Lord’s Gym, and more memberships will translate to greater opportunities for education and mentoring programs at the new location.

“It’s going to have a huge impact on the city,” said Turrentine.

Lakeview Assembly’s “Helping Hands” program, which provides more than 1,000 bags of food to needy families and roughly 500 sandwiches to the city’s homeless population per week will move its preparation facilities to the new location.

The completion date for the Lord’s Gym City Center is currently slated for fall 2016.