UM Approves $150 Recreation Center

By Martin Slagter

ANN ARBOR, MI - The University of Michigan's Board of Regents have approved demolishing its Central Campus Recreation Building and replacing it with a new 200,000-square-foot building for recreation sports.

The regents approved the $150 million project unanimously Thursday, Sept. 20, which was made possible by the shuffling of two campus buildings.

UM's School of Kinesiology is moving into the Edward Henry Kraus Building and the Department of Dance is shifting to UM's North Campus.

The new recreation center will house modern gymnasiums, a jogging and walking track, weight and cardiovascular training spaces, group exercise rooms, aquatics, climbing areas, squash and racquetball courts, locker rooms, and support and administration spaces, according the regents action request.

The action request from UM Vice President for Student Life E. Royster Harper and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty notes that the university looked into reusing a portion of the existing CCRB for the new project, but it was determined not to be feasible.

"The existing building consists of short, load-bearing spans with low ceiling heights and varying floor levels. Therefore, we propose to demolish the existing CCRB after it is vacant," the action request states.

UM Chief Financial Officer Kevin Hegarty said the existing structure has served students and the community well, but it is time for an updated recreational facility on central campus.

"While the campus has made excellent use of the facility for more than 60 years, the size of the campus population and functional expectations of such a facility have changed dramatically," Hegarty said. "The board and administration has in the past heard from students about the poor quality of the facility."

The CCRB currently is comprised of several structures that were built between 1956-78. It is the third and final campus recreation center to undergo extensive renovations in recent years.

UM's North Campus Recreation Center just wrapped up its $17.3 million renovation earlier this month, while the university's Intramural Sports Building unveiled its $22 million space in September 2016.

Funding for the project will be provided by investment proceeds, gifts and the student life activity fee designated for facility renewal.

Regent Andrea Fischer Newman said a new facility has been needed for decades, noting the old recreation facility has served the campus well.

"This is something we've talked about for a long time - updating the physical fitness areas on our campus," Fischer Newman said. "It is so important to the health and wellbeing of our students and it's wonderful to see this finally getting off the ground.

A student group called Building a Better Michigan, as well as well as an advisory committee for recreational sports were supportive of getting a student fee passed in 2013 to renovate UM's three recreation centers and student union facilities.

Integrated Design Solutions, in association with the firm of ROG Planning and Design, will design the project.

Jason Hilton