Senior center site plan approved

Expansion construction could start as soon as October

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 27, 2016

 The 2,800-square-foot addition to the facility will hold a fitness center.

The 2,800-square-foot addition to the facility will hold a fitness center.

Rendering provided by Partners in Architecture

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — With a fitness center expansion, new paint, new ceilings, new kitchen equipment and more, City Council approved the site plan for the Senior Activities Center expansion and renovation June 20.

Mike Malone, with Partners in Architecture, told council members that they’re adding a 2,800-square-foot fitness center, a small vestibule and a covered entrance canopy, and improving the remaining interior of the center in accordance with the wishes of the Senior Center Committee, made up of members of the center and City Council, and advised by city administrators.

The office area will be relocated to the back of the facility, Malone said, and brought into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

“The multipurpose room ... is primarily the same room you have now. The kitchen gets some improvements. There’s a fitness center addition (that) accommodates 20-30 new (pieces of) equipment,” Malone said. “This layout is based on the equipment that they have selected.”

There will also be two spaces dedicated for healing arts and a new conference room in the renovated center, and new restrooms and lockers in the new fitness center. 

“We went through several different iterations” of the site plan, said Councilman John Caron, a member of the committee. “Looking at different combinations of where the fitness center could go ... so we can try to fit in as many of the needs as we could. We can’t meet every criteria, (but) I think we got a good compromise here.”

Everything will be refreshed, with the exception of the existing bathrooms, which were recently remodeled, he said. If all goes according to plan, construction could begin in late October. 

The committee was unanimous in support of the design.

But not everyone on council agreed.

“I’m a little taken aback by this,” said Councilman Ron Frederick. “Just seeing this, we’re spending $1.7 million for a 2,800-square-foot addition. That just seems odd to me. We get one shot to do this right.”

He said he wanted to see a breakdown of what everything was proposed to cost because he couldn’t believe that such a small addition was all that was being paid for with the money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). 

Mayor Kip Walby, however, pointed out that the construction costs are closer to $1.2 million, with contingencies and fees making up the difference. And Malone pointed out that construction costs are going up.

Frederick said he didn’t realize the HUD loan would be used for things like replacing the senior center roof. 

“That’s probably out of the scope of what I would have thought that we would use that money for,” he said. “I’m just disappointed because this was supposed to be a huge expansion. 

“We’re now cutting the expansion size to fund other things. We’re trying to attract more (people) to use this, and we’re basically adding something that’s basically the size of the current multipurpose room.”

Councilman Peter Rubino said he could sympathize with Frederick’s feelings on the matter. Rubino also served on the committee.

“I was shocked at what that amount of money was getting us,” he said. “I go back and forth on whether it’s even wise to spend any money in the financial situation (St. Clair Shores is in). 

“The key is, we had to get ADA-compliant on the building. There are a lot of changes inside and it was the seniors, really, who had to make the tough decisions on what they wanted to give up or not give up, or make a compromise on, because the funds are limited.”

Caron said that the plan before council is what they can afford with the money they have.

“I’m actually happy we could hold a project together that (brought together) all different types of needs,” he said. “There were tough discussions on what we could do, what we could not do.”

The site plan was unanimously approved by City Council June 20.

Malone said they hope to be done with the construction drawings in August and put the project out to bid, with construction hopefully beginning in October.

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