Two years from now, the former Marshall Upper Elementary in Westland will likely be unrecognizable.
City officials have been working to turn the closed school building, at 35100 Bayview St., into a recreation and community center since early 2021. A consultant for the project estimates the renovation will cost $15 million.
The center, if redeveloped over the next two years, will include a YMCA, house Wayne Metro Community Action Agency’s Head Start program, and provide space for city services and events.
As the city prepares to purchase the Wayne-Westland Community Schools property early next year, plans for the space are beginning to take a clearer shape. The center would open around the summer of 2024.
“There are a million moving parts,” said Aubrey Berman, Westland’s director of economic development.
A YMCA that looks like a modern leisure center
Part of Marshall would be redeveloped as a YMCA. But officials don’t want the center to continue to look like a school. Mayor Bill Wild said the building will have a more open feel and the YMCA will contribute $500,000 to pay for branding and furnishings.
“It has to be modern, have the best equipment and not look like a school,” Berman said. “So we kind of plan the design of everything that way.”
Planned changes include redesigned locker rooms, courtyard space, classrooms outfitted to accommodate group workout classes like yoga and spin, and the cafeteria would become a place for workout equipment.
“We want it to look like a modern YMCA,” Wild said.
Wild said the city’s relationship with the YMCA is longstanding — years ago the Aldi at Wayne Road and Bayview Street was a YMCA — and the nonprofit plans to make Westland its main presence in western Wayne County. Having the recreation center run by a non-profit organization will also help keep membership fees affordable.
“It’s part of our interest in partnering with the Y – they’re affordably priced,” Wild said. “They are non-profit and may subsidize memberships for those on low incomes.”
Officials also hope to keep the cost of renovation as low as possible. U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D) and U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) have requested a total of $6 million in federal funds for the project, and Wayne County has expressed interest in participating. Westland Council recently pledged $8 million from the city’s US bailout fund to Marshall.
After:Farmington Hills couple invested in Detroit’s music scene for diversity
After:Livonia council gives mayor more purchasing power due to rising costs
After:Couple Uproot Their Suburban Lifestyle to Become a Lavender Farmer in Michigan
“We worked closely with Wayne County Development,” Berman said. “They signaled to us that once the city puts some skin in the game in terms of financial commitment, they would be ready to come to the table and potentially match that.”
Splash pad, additions outside
One thing that many residents have said they want in a recreation center is a swimming pool. But, due to the cost of maintaining an aquatic center, Wild said Marshall won’t have one. The mayor said he was considering a partnership with Wayne-Westland Schools that would allow Marshall members to use the high school’s two swimming pools.
But, there are plans for a year-round wading pool at Marshall.
“We thought about having, maybe, garage doors or something so that part of it would be available year-round,” Wild said.
Other exterior changes to Marshall will include a playground, updated tennis and pickleball courts, and the elimination of the baseball diamond on the property. The city may not keep the football field because, like the baseball field, residents can use these amenities in other parks.