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Hannah Community Center plans to renovate third floor with ARP Funds

Hannah Community Center third floor
Posted at 9:11 AM, May 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-09 09:11:29-04

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The Hannah Community Center has been in East Lansing since 1926.

“The Hannah Community Center started out as an East Lansing Public School," said Parks and Rec Assistant Director Wendy Wilmers Longpre. "It was constructed in 1927 as a high school. It served as a high school until 1969 and then in 1969, it began to just serve as a middle school for middle school students.”

A couple years after the school closed in 1997, the city purchased the building and converted it to a community center.

“The majority of the project was funded through a bond that we secured, or that the voters approved in '98 and then the construction happened. It was completed in 2002,” Wilmers Longpre said.

But not quite all of it got finished. As the Hannah Community Center celebrates 20 years as a community hub, the third floor look almost the same as it did 65 years ago.

From the lockers to the classrooms, the third floor tells the story of the building that once full of students.

“This was an old science lab and you can see the soap stone counter tops all of the individual drawers to store the supplies and then you can see the gas fixtures sitting on the counter top,” Wilmers Longpre said.

But thanks to $12 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan, the classrooms and hallways will soon be a memory.

“We were considering projects that really had the potential to better the city's position financially in the future," Wilmers Longpre said. “Our hope would be that by renovating the third floor, we can potentially create more revenue through building usage fees, and help offset the costs of maintaining the community center.”

Renovations on the third floor include making more space for the cities many existing programs.

“We’re limited at this point in time by the amount of space we have on the first and second floor and so we’re really hoping that we can structure the renovation in a manner that we’d be able to potentially use the space for that as well," Wilmers Longpre said. "So, we’re really looking at open, multi use spaces to give us the greatest flexibility in what we offer here in the future.”

And taking the fitness center on the first floor and moving it upstairs for more space.

“We're looking at a renovation that would probably quadruple or triple the size of the fitness center," Wilmers Longpre said."So we're hoping to be able to serve more residents and to really promote improved health for people who live within East Lansing, or those who travel frequently to our community.”

Some things that are needed for the renovations are already there thanks to additions over time.

“One of the benefits when we did the original renovation is we did install the elevator," Wilmers Longpre said. "It can come up to the third floor, right now it’s locked.”

Others are going to be more expensive.

“Getting adequate restrooms up here as well as restrooms that meet all the adequate requirements, whether that's ADA or the number of stalls that are needed for the amount of people that will be in this space,” Wilmers Longpre said.

While most of the third floors history will be removed, Wilmers Longpre said they hope to keep some of it in place to serve as a reminder of how far they've come.

"You just think about current standards and current practices and it’s really interesting to look at a building like this and see how far we’ve come."

City council has approved the allocation of $6 million so far so some projects like the Hannah Community Center can move forward. The other $6 million is still up for discussion and may not be approved until later this year.

Wilmers Longpre said they hope to finish the renovation designs for the community center in the next six to eight months and begin construction in summer of 2023.

Other places the ARPA funds in the city could be allocated to can be found here.

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Mikayla Temple

FOX 47 News Neighborhood Newsletter