TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The University Area Cultural Development Center is expanding its reach by adding its Cultural Campus which will be a one stop shop for resources, services and cultural fun.

Located right off of Fletcher Avenue, the Cultural Campus is a redevelopment project underway in the University Area. This is in between Bearss Ave. and Fowler Ave. around the University of South Florida. Many in this area deal with unemployment, lack of education, language barriers, inadequate health care and more.

“Thirty-two percent of the individuals living in this area are really struggling, so we want to make sure we provide those opportunities for them to move along,” said Jaree Ervin.

Erin is the Executive Director of the University Area Community Development Corporation.

“The University Area CDC is a place where a person can come and get the help they need and they can have the support for their family so they can really thrive in this community,” she said.

For twenty years the UACDC has provided youth programs, educational opportunities, affordable housing and other resources to those within the University community. Now, they’re creating the Cultural Campus to help make all of their resources a one stop shop.

“To be able to go to a office and have someone who looks like you to be there to service them who may know some of the challenges they may face,” Ervin said.

In phase one they revamped a building that has two offices for two culturally diverse organizations the UACDC works with; the Caribbean American National Development Organization (CANDO) and Casa Chiapas.

“There wasn’t really a base or home that existed for us Caribbean Americans in Tampa Bay,” said Francis Joseph, Executive Director of CANDO.

With their new home on the Cultural Campus, Joseph said the local Caribbean community can have a place to meet and get any help they may need.

“They can call on us and say hey this is our challenge where do we go to get help and we can help them,” Joseph said. “All of the challenges other segments of the community face, the Caribbean population in the Tampa Bay area has those same challenges, so having that representation and knowing we are recognized and appreciated, that’s important.”

Phase two of the Cultural Campus will revamp an already exisisting warehouse where different programs will be held. Phase three will create a 12,000 sq. ft. center for immigration, legal, mentorship and health services. It will also be used as a space for businesses and students. Phase four includes building affordable and sustainable housing from people who live within the University community.

Representative Kathy Castor provided a $2 million dollar grant to go toward the Cultural Campus. That is helping jumpstart phase two of the project. It’s $9.5 million dollar project and the UACDC is hosting their Uptown Music Festival this weekend where all of the proceeds go toward the Cultural Campus.

The Uptown Music Festival will be Saturday, May 14 at 4 p.m. at the UACDC on 22nd St. The festival includes these music artists:

  • Kim Waters
  • Nathan Mitchell
  • Jose Valentino
  • Althea Rene
  • Jazmin Ghent
  • Tim George

Local artists will have artwork on display as well. Tickets are on sale.

WFLA News Channel 8’s Deanne King will host for the evening.