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Posted on Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 5:58 a.m.

Parkridge Community Center $2.5M expansion project construction target start date set

By Katrease Stafford


Officials offered a glimpse into what the Parkridge Community Center expansion would look like upon completion.

Courtesy photo

Nearly $1 million has been raised for a proposed $2.5 million Ypsilanti Parkridge Community Center expansion project and construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2014.

The expansion would add a 12,000-square-foot addition and transform the center into a regional economic, educational and artistic resource, according to city officials and local activists.

The newly formed Parkridge Cultural and Job Training Center nonprofit is overseeing the project.

The nonprofit’s board, which still is being finalized, will consist of John Barfield of the Bartech Group, Rod Jones of Work Skills Corporation, local youth advocate Tommy Frye and Mayor Pro-Tem Lois Richardson, as well as one to three additional members.

Barfield presented his expansion plans to city council last Thursday and said a fundraising goal of $2 million has been set to cover most of the construction costs.

The remaining balance may be covered by a $500,000 mortgage with the Bank of Ann Arbor, Barfield said.

“I met with the bank and they have agreed to finance the construction once we’ve raised the $2 million," he said.


761 Harriet St. is one of two properties that may be demolished to make room for the expansion project.

Courtesy photo

Barfield said the goal was set because they wanted to make sure there was enough capital available to cover the bulk of the project.

“We don’t want to create something that’s burdensome,” Barfield said. “Our plans were to start construction this spring but we decided that would not be wise because it would leave too large of a mortgage and it would be too much for us to handle comfortably.”

Barfield will be donating $300,000 of his own personal money, Work Skills Corporation will give $200,000 and General Motors is giving $100,000. Other donors are expected to contribute as well.

“We were able to raise that $1 million from about five sources and we’re very pleased with that,” Barfield said.

The center currently is housed in a 7,000-square-foot revitalized building at 591 Armstrong Dr. In order to make room for the expansion, the nonprofit proposed purchasing the two homes located directly east of the existing community center at 761 and 767 Harriet St.

Barfield said 761 Harriet St., which was on the city’s dangerous building list, was donated by the owner and the family will be recognized with a plaque.

The owner of 767 Harriet St. accepted a purchase total of $30,000.

Barfield said the partners are requesting the city of Ypsilanti demolish the existing site structures and do some basic site preparation for the addition. City Planner Teresa Gillotti said it will cost the city approximately $20,000 to demolish both properties.


Paul Collins alongside one of his art pieces.

Courtesy photo

The expansion would accommodate the addition of 6,000-square-foot African American Art Museum featuring art by Paul Collins and a 6,000-square-foot job-training center that would be occupied by Work Skills Corporation.

"When we finish this we will have 20,000 square feet," Barfield said. "It will be connected and there will be an atrium between it."

Jones said in addition to job training, Work Skills Corporation will offer various activities and opportunities to members of the community.

"The kids in south Ypsilanti, I want them to know what's out there," Jones said. "I want them to know that there are hopes and dreams. We want to use some of our space for music classes and art classes. I want to do things that bring the community in and utilize the space."

Richardson, who has supported Parkridge Community Center for years, said as the expansion is underway, the center will continue to expand its program offerings.

"When we first started, we started with the 4- and 5-year-olds," Richardson said. "We plan to continue that. There will be drama classes and a space for plays. There will be other classes there and not just arts and crafts. There will be enrichment for the little ones all the way to seniors."

Council members commended Barfield and his partners for pulling together the funds.

"There are so many positive things here," Council Member Daniel Vogt said. "If there's any way we can find the funds to do this, we need to."

City Manager Ralph Lange said he believes the expansion is a good idea but cautioned Barfield to make sure enough capital is obtained for the project.

"The whole story of holding it together is wonderful," Lange said. "However, we want to be consistent and make sure the capital costs are taken care of... Parkridge is going to be self-sufficient one way or the other."



Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 7:08 a.m.

What a great prospect for Ypsilanti.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 10:47 p.m.

Beautiful building .. Again, looks like Hobbs+Black's name in the image.'d think Ann Arbor would figure out that hiring first rate architects has value, something apparently lost on a City that seems to crave clunky, blocky, ham-fisted buildings and art.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 8:05 p.m.

How about renting some existing vacant space? You could pay for a lot of rent for 2.5 million dollars.


Fri, Aug 24, 2012 : 7:11 a.m.

Author of "The Cathedral Within", Bill Shore, would probably agree with you. He writes about how non-profits get fancy which can detract dollars and people from its mission.

greg, too

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:02 p.m.

"Parkridge is going to be self-sufficient one way or the other." That is not so subtle code for "the city isn't giving you a dime." Who is going to pay the mortgage if almost a third of the space is a small art museum? Hopefully they can raise the extra $500k they need and not rely on mortgages and other debts that could bring the place down in the future. There is grant money out there for inner city projects that are in minority areas. I hope they are looking for this money instead of just settling for a debt.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 2:52 p.m.

Really? "The expansion would accommodate the addition of 6,000-square-foot African American Art Museum" African-Americans make up only 10% of the Population, why do pander to them? What about the Spanish Speaking population in the area? Are they 2nd rate citizens or non-citizens in Ypsilanti?

greg, too

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

I'm more interested on why they are using a third of the space for any art museum, no matter the racial group. Sure, use this guys painting around the building, but that space could be better utilized for training or courses instead of an art gallery.

tom swift jr.

Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 1:12 p.m.

I'm curious as to the connection between Mr. Jones' role as CEO of WorkSkills (a non-profit) and and his role as President of Kahiko Koa, Inc. ( , a private corporation that seems to be in direct competition and providing some of the same services as WorkSkills.


Thu, Aug 23, 2012 : 12:46 p.m.

This is wonderful news for the community.