Old high school transforms into massive community center with aquatic center, theater & more

Posted at 6:23 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 18:23:37-04

(WXYZ) — The building that once housed Farmington Hills Harrison is in a new beginning.

Now called "The Hawk," the 245,000-square-foot Farmington Hills Community Center is located on the 42-acre campus, now open to residents and non-residents alike.

“You walk in the doors, and you see the aquatic center through the windows, you see a nice seating area, everything is just perfect from what we’re hearing," Bryan Farmer, who oversees the operation of the new center, said.

While the aquatics center grabs your attention immediately, with its zero-depth entry pool, water slide, lazy river, zip line and climbing wall — we also explored the rest of the massive space — starting with the 764-seat theater.

That's now being used for a summer camp, and will be home to theater programs and concerts.

There's a 3-court gymnasium kept busy with volleyball and basketball, and during our visit, class was in session in the large second-floor dance studio.

The work of local artists will be featured prominently throughout the building. Expanded programming for the arts is possible with the size of the building.

“It’s a dream come true really. This is a very supportive community for the arts, and we’ve never had enough space to accommodate all the programs that we had so to be able to expand everything ten-fold is just amazing, we’re so excited, Rachel Timlin said.

The fitness center is also certain to be a big draw. Omari Crume and his fiancée, LaShawn, are already putting the equipment to the test.

“I love it so far, it’s really nice. I would say some of the best services I’ve ever seen, honestly," Omari said. “The way the weight room and everything is set up, everything is state of the art, brand new.”

When completed, it will become a maker space, a community workshop filled with tools and technologies to make things. A grant for more than a $500,000 from the Bosch Community Fund will help equip and support the program for three years.

The building’s roughly $24 million renovation cost is being paid for through a bond with no tax increase for residents.

Program revenue plus general fund monies and partnerships will cover operating costs for the facility.

“A lot of our residents would say, you know, Livonia has a community center, Canton has a community center, Troy has a community center, why don’t we have a community center?" Farmer said. "And we’d say well we do but it’s just not as cool as all those.”

Now it is, and then some.

“We’re really proud of the decisions our administration has made, our city management and the schools," Farmer said.

Turning the necessary closure of a school building into an asset the entire community can now enjoy.