Detroit Investing $45M in Recreation Centers

The city of Detroit announced it will spend $45 million to renovate, expand, and reopen a dozen recreation centers, with $30 million of the funding coming from the city’s America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, $10 million in city bond funds, and $5 million from Roger Penske, founder and chairman of Penske Corp. in Bloomfield Township.
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The city of Detroit is investing $45 million in recreation center throughout the city with funds from ARPA, city bonds, and Roger Penske. // Courtesy of Inform
The city of Detroit is investing $45 million in recreation center throughout the city with funds from ARPA, city bonds, and Roger Penske. // Courtesy of Inform

The city of Detroit announced it will spend $45 million to renovate, expand, and reopen a dozen recreation centers, with $30 million of the funding coming from the city’s America Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, $10 million in city bond funds, and $5 million from Roger Penske, founder and chairman of Penske Corp. in Bloomfield Township.

In all, eight existing recreation centers will undergo major upgrades and renovations. One closed recreation center will be demolished and rebuilt and a closed community center in an underserved neighborhood will be purchased by the city, renovated, and reopened. The city also will construct a new sports fieldhouse complex on the city’s east side.

Starting in the 1980s, city leaders closed 20 of the city’s recreation centers. Since 2013, the city has renovated and reopened the Kemeny Rec Center in southwest Detroit and partnered with Mitch Albom and Matthew Stafford to renovate and reactivate the Lipke Recreation Center. It also recently completed the renovation of the Adams Butzel Rec Center on the city’s west side.

“In the past eight years, we’ve completely renovated more than 150 parks, giving children and families across the city the opportunity for a quality place to play near their homes,” says Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “Now we are shifting our attention to our aging recreation centers to make sure they, too, are of the quality you would see available in any suburban community.”

One of the largest projects will be the demolition and reconstruction of the Dexter-Elmhurst recreation center, which is now vacant and privately owned. The city plans to purchase the building and spend $8.5 million to completely remodel it, providing a needed amenity in a historically underserved community.

Funding for the project will come from the city’s share of ARPA funds. When completed in 2024, the new city rec center will include indoor sports facilities, community rooms, and kitchen space for events and classes.

“This is a long time coming, I am so excited to see this development happening and rejuvenating our community,” says Helen Moore, a longtime community advocate. “Our community has needed something to give us hope and Mayor Duggan’s commitment to invest in this neighborhood is doing that.”

On the east side, the city will rebuild the vacant Lenox community center into a new solar-powered recreation center that will double as a community resilience hub for residents experiencing power outages.

The $5 million project is being paid for by Penske as part of his Strategic Neighborhood Fund commitment to the Jefferson Chalmers community. The new facility will be rebuilt outside of the area’s floodplain and will include community rooms, a multipurpose room for sporting activities, and a kitchen for family events and classes.

“As a lifelong Detroiter, I have waited to see A.B. Ford Park and Lenox Center rehabilitated for a long time,” says Juvette Hawkins-Williams, president of Friends of Jefferson-Chalmers Riverfront Parks. “This new investment will help bring life to our community to experience a brand-new park and state-of-the-art community-based facility.”

Projects completed, underway, or planned include:

$30M ARPA-Funded improvements

Dexter-Elmhurst Rec Center
Status: Vacant and closed.
Project details: The City plans to purchase the community building this year and fully renovate it, as well as staff and operate it as a new city recreation center.
Timeline: Out for bid for design services this summer. Construction starts spring 2023
Cost: $8.5M renovation

Chandler Park
Status: Currently an outdoor sports field at Chandler Park.
Project details: City plans to install a new indoor center and full-size dome covered football field
Timeline: Currently out for bid for design services. Construction is expected to start in summer 2023
Cost: $12M

Farwell
Status: Open and operating
Project details: Expansion to include new gymnasium, lockers, and walking path
Timeline: Currently out for design services. Construction expected to start spring 2023.
Cost: $4M

State Fair Band Shell
Status: Open and operating
Project details: Historic amphitheater will be relocated to Palmer Park
Timeline: Construction expected 2022
Cost: $3M
$10M City bond-funded improvements

Adams Butzel
Status: Open and operating
Project details: Full renovation including roof replacement, HVAC upgrades, pool, and locker room improvements
Timeline: Completed in 2021
Cost: $4.2M

Coleman Young
Status: Under construction
Project details: Major interior renovations, updates, and improvements to lobby, entry way, restrooms, kitchen, etc.
Timeline: Summer 2022
Cost: $1.5M

Butzel Family
Status: Under construction
Project details: Major interior and exterior updates and renovations
Timeline: April 2022
Cost: $1.5M

Heilmann
Status: Open and operating
Project details: Major renovation including interior renovations, updates, and improvements to lobby, restrooms, kitchen, etc.
Timeline: Opened in March 2022
Cost: $1.2M

Patton Rec Center
Status: Open and operating
Project details: Major renovation including pool and gymnasium improvements, HVAC upgrades and renovated dance room
Timeline: Opened in 2021
Cost: $900K

Crowell
Status: Under construction
Project details: Major renovations and updates to lobby, restrooms, kitchen, etc., as well as landscaping
Timeline: April 2022
Cost: $828K

Clemente
Status: Under construction
Project details: Major renovations and updates to lobby, restrooms, kitchen, etc., as well as landscaping
Timeline: April 2022
Cost: $750K

Mini libraries — $500K to completely renovate mini-libraries at 11 city recreation centers. Completed October 2021

Lenox — $5M from Penske to completely rebuild this abandoned recreation center in the Jefferson Chalmers Neighborhood.

To read DBusiness magazine’s cover story about Penske, visit here.

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