Detroit investing $45M, including $30M in ARPA funds, to renovate 8 recreation centers, open 3 more


Detroit investing $45M, including $30M in ARPA funds, to renovate 8 recreation centers, open 3 more

  • City to purchase closed Dexter-Elmhurst Rec center, spend $8.5M to reopen facility in underserved community
  • Major projects also include $5M rebuilding closed Lenox Center in Jefferson Chalmers, $4M expansion of Farwell rec center, and new $12M Fieldhouse at Chandler Park
  • Mayor says investment is part of effort to reverse historic disinvestment in city recreation centers since the 1980s

The City of Detroit is spending $45 million to renovate, expand and reopen a dozen recreation centers in the city in what may be the largest period of investment in these facilities in decades. The spending includes $30 million from the city’s share of American Rescue Plan Act funds, $10 million in city bond funds, and $5 million from Roger Penske.

In all, eight existing recreation centers are undergoing 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.

Mayor Duggan detailed many of the improvements in his State of the City address last week. Since the 1980s, city leaders closed 20 of the city’s recreation centers, leaving children and seniors with fewer options. Since Mayor Duggan was elected, the city has renovated and reopened the Kemeny Rec Center in southwest Detroit and partnered with Mitch Albom and Matt 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.

Now, Duggan said, the city is making the largest investment in its recreation centers in more than 50 years.

“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,” Mayor Duggan said. “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.”

Dexter-Elmhurst: One of the most ambitious and impactful 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 badly 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”, said Helen Moore, 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.”

“For decades, residents have advocated for a space to call their own, and today that dream is reality. The Dexter Elmhurst Community Center is the culmination of 30 years of advocacy for a dedicated space, resources, and programming for the residents of District 7. We are grateful to celebrate this milestone with community activists, advocates, and allies such as Ms. Helen Moore who relentlessly fought to bring the center to fruition. Thank you to everyone who supported this project, especially Mayor Duggan and the City of Detroit Park and Recreations Department for creating a beautiful and safe space for all people to enjoy."

Rebuilding Lenox: On the city’s 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 Roger 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.

The total cost for Lenox building is 6.68M (UTGO Bond Funding $3,950,000 / $2,730,000 Grant Funded).

“As a lifelong Detroiter, I have waited to see A.B. Ford Park and Lenox Center rehabilitated for a long time”, said Juvette Hawkins-Willliams, president, 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

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

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

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

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

$5M Roger Penske donation

Lenox - $5M to completely rebuild this abandoned recreation center in the Jefferson Chalmers Neighborhood

Dexter Elmhurst before
Dexter Elmhurst Community Center is currently closed.
Dexter-Elmhurst rendering
The Dexter Elmhurst Community will have a state-of-the-art center. 
Lenox before
Lenox Recreation Center is currently closed.
Lenox after
Lenox Climate Resiliency Center will be solar-powered and provide respite for residents during power outages.
Chandler Park Dome
Chandler Park will offer year-round sports inside a climate-controlled dome.
Farwell Recreation Center will be expanded with a new gym and outdoor courts.