COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Renovation is underway at the African American and African Studies Community Extension Center at Ohio State University.

The building is located at the nexus of the Mount Vernon and King-Lincoln Bronzeville neighborhoods, and has been there for more than 50 years. At a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday, representatives from Ohio State and the community gathered for a glimpse of how the space will move into the 21st century. They also got the chance to take a swing at a wall that will be demolished.

The project is a commitment by Ohio State to engage its students in the community. For one Ohio state senator who grew up in the neighborhood, he has a personal connection to support this project.

“Everything I’ll ever be is because of this community,” said Sen. Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus). “I think this will continue to be an extremely important place — not just the building, but in terms of concepts, ideas, and moving our nation forward.”

Craig has secured $1 million in state funds to support to community extension center’s renovation, more than half of the near-$2 million cost to modernize the building’s interior. The plans for renovation include a new HVAC system, a major technology upgrade, and renovating a classroom to double its capacity from 25 to 50.

Monica Stigler, director of the center, said she’s excited for all that will come from the project.

“It’s a place to dream about who they want to become and a chance for us as Ohio State to figure out the resources necessary to help folks reach those aspirations,” said Stigler.

It’s a mission Craig can get behind.

“What we have to do is make sure that young people have the tools and the resources so that they can live out their value and live out their purpose like me,” Craig said.

As Stigler puts it, there’s only one takeaway she wants people to have.

“I think more than anything, I want them to feel welcomed,” she says. “I want them to recognize this is a place that reflects not only who we are and where we’ve been as a community, but what our aspirations are moving forward.”

The renovation is expected to be done in early fall.