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Posted on Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 5:35 p.m.

Design team behind proposed $12M Ypsilanti recreation center to host public forums Thursday

By Katrease Stafford


This is one of two design options being suggested by the University of Michigan team.

Courtesy of Parks and Recreation

The University of Michigan design team behind the proposed $12 million Water Street Eastside Recreation Center in Ypsilanti will be giving two presentations Thursday seeking public input regarding the project.

Two presentations have been scheduled for public input regarding the project, both on Thursday at SPARK East, 215 W. Michigan in downtown. The first presentation will be at 4 p.m., and the second will begin at 7 p.m.

The U-M student design team, led by three professors from U-M’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, have put together two designs after working throughout the summer on the concept.

The project still is in the early stages of development, and officials expect construction to begin in late 2014 or early 2015. The center would occupy eight of the 38 acres on Water Street.

U-M architecture professor Jen Maigret, part of the design team, said she believes the center will generate interest in the Water Street property.

"What's going to create the most amount of interest is the idea that the city and county have come together to oversee the creation of a rec center that serves as a civic anchor," Maigret said. "I suspect those will be some of the things to talk about tomorrow."

If the project is approved, it would be a three-way partnership among the city, the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation department and the Ann Arbor YMCA.

Parks and Recreation would likely enter into a 99-year lease with the city for the land. The YMCA would oversee the day-to-day operations.

Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Director Bob Tetens told the county wanted to be assured it has the cash flow to fund the project.

“We’ve got some (funds) set aside, but we would approach the board of commissioners to finance part two," Tetens said. "We are looking for any and all funding sources.”

Maigret said Thursday's event will allow the team to walk through some of what the process has been and gather public feedback.

"We're excited to hear what people have to say," Maigret said. "... The rec center has a role in setting the tone for development to come. The Water Street redevelopment site has a history and they've been looking for ideas to spark interest."

The city has long sought development possibilities for Water Street. In 2010, the City Council unanimously rejected a proposal from Indiana-based Bravokilo, which owns the Burger King on Michigan Avenue near Ecorse Road, to build a new restaurant on one acre of the 38-acre site.

The center would be more than 60,000 square feet and would be much like the Ann Arbor Meri Lou Murray Recreation Center that opened in 1991.

Katrease Stafford covers Ypsilanti for her at or 734-623-2548 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 4:05 p.m.

why don't you read an article that actually informs you of the design intentions before you make uneducated comments.


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

If the building won't cost $12 million then the trouble is with the headline and the first paragraph. It should simply read that UM students designed a project for a rec building in Ypsi and will be presenting it today. Then explain that this is just one proposed idea and not that it is the lead and only possible idea and that the city has not contracted with UM to design it. Then state in the next paragraph that their plan would cost $12 million. By putting all of this first, it seems that 1-UM has a lock on the design; 2-it will cost $12 million regardless; 3-that it's a done deal.


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 1:05 p.m.

$12 million? I know the county will buy the land and build it but does the county have $12 million? It can't be built for less? Much less? I don't know how much is reasonable but this does seem a bit much.


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 12:44 p.m.

What matters to me is what's inside the building. I really am hoping for a building that have very attractive facilities for the kids. Even more important is how the building is staffed. THAT is the part of the budget that concerns me the most, because I've seen many beautiful school buildings open in our community but they failed because of inadequate staffing.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 11:49 p.m.

"The rec center has a role in setting the tone for development to come." Exactly. Which is the prime reason why the design needs to be something other than "George Jetson futuristic." It needs to fit in with the surrounding landscape, not stick out like a piece of broken glass in a pile of cotton balls. The buildings in the area have historical, more traditional facades, and the area around the site is wooded and riverfront. Why would anyone possibly think something asymmetrical and ultra-modern would be desirable for this purpose on this site? I'm all for modern, eco-friend construction techniques and materials, including solar power, etc., but those things are all compatible with a design in keeping with the tone of the area. I hope the other design is something completely opposite of the one pictured with this article.

Katrease Stafford

Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 11:48 p.m.

I think it's important to note that everything is still in the very early stages of planning. As plans becomes more concrete, the parks and recreation department will begin the process of sending out bids to actual design firms who will then create a site plan. The students helped create the initial concept, but they won't be designing the actual recreation center. U-M architecture professor Jen Maigret and others involved will be on hand Thursday to offer more of an explanation. I think we all, myself included, are eager to hear more details about this project as they continue to develop.


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

This is very exciting if true Katrease, but development does not work like that. Again, it is appropriate for students to be get a real project as a basis for a design class. Great. But it is a mistake to think that equates to anything more. If the City thinks they are going to hire a firm to design a site around a student project, they would make a laughing stock of everyone involved. The City would normally request qualifications from experience architectural firms - Ann Arbor has several excellent ones. Their work includes a thorough study of the needs of the recreation department and the site well before proposing any kind of design - that is part of what they do. A student project has zero place in that process.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 11:51 p.m.

Well then. I wish I'd have seen your post before I posted the below. I hope the above is as far away from the final concept as possible.


Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

There is nothing wrong with student projects - this is cute and edgy - but they should not be confused with projects designed by professional architects. This will be three or four times the cost of an adult project and hit all the right eco buttons because the kids don't know any better.

Marvin Face

Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 11:22 p.m.


Kai Petainen

Wed, Sep 26, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

UofM students working on a project in this area... this is such a cool/neat story... very cool! what a neat experience for the students... awesome stuff.


Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 2:15 p.m.

I totally agree. This is Ypsilanti and EMU students should be designing this, not Ann Arbor UM students. Sorry but we need to keep the talent in house.

dading dont delete me bro

Thu, Sep 27, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

no emu students? education first...