An artist’s rendering shows the final plan for the renovation of the Derby Recreation Center. The renovations were expected to be approved Tuesday, Aug. 14.
For the first time, Derby residents got a peek at what the Derby Recreation Center will look like after the completion of an extensive 12-month renovation.
Architect Matt Hamm, with Schaefer Johnson Cox Frey Architecture, displayed several renderings and construction documents this past week for the DRC’s $3.7 million remodel project. The DRC has been working with the architectural firm since November 2005.
“At that time we were just talking about remodeling some office areas and different areas in the facility,” said Frank Seitz, superintendent of the DRC. “In 2009, we put together a task force and got community input on the needs of the recreation center and expectations. You’ll find out we addressed many of those issues, if not all of them.”
Renovations will be done throughout the facility. Designs call for a larger fitness center and activity studios, improved aquatic facility and restrooms and modernizing the entire building’s appearance, Seitz said.
Currently, the firm is working on construction documents, which will go out to contractors for bidding. Bids should start in September and construction in October. The project will take about a year to complete, Hamm said.
“In October 2013, you should be in a fully-completed building,” Hamm said.
If approved at this week’s DRC board meeting, which Seitz suggests they would, the plans will go to the city of Derby for approval on Aug. 28. The city will then consider a new lease agreement for the DRC and financing for the project.
“We will not be increasing any taxes,” Seitz said. “The DRC pays off its lease agreement with this facility in December of this year. This facility is owned by the city of Derby. The DRC leases it from them, and our lease payment is the debt service on the bonds that they’ve issued. It’s just like paying off your home mortgage, essentially. We will roll that over into a new program with the city of Derby.”
Renovations will begin with the outside façade of the building, which will include new landscaping and a water feature.
“When it’s all said and done, we will have an area in front of the building that’s basically brand new,” Hamm said. “It will consist of new sidewalks, new drainage and new concrete paving that will extend into the parking lot.”
The approach will be safer than the current setup, and will not sacrifice any parking spaces, he said.
“All of this will be heated during the winter with an under-slab heating system,” Hamm said. “The hope is that any runoff that happens here, anything that comes off the building water-wise, will not freeze.”
Originally, the plan was to have a covered entrance, but the design had to be scrapped.
“As the project developed, we realized there was no way we’d be able to get fire trucks or buses under there without having a very large overhang, which would be completely out of scale with the building,” Hamm said. “That idea was pushed aside. There will still be a smaller canopy that will mark the entrance, but you won’t be able to drive under it.”
The new entrance from the outside will be twice the width of the current one.
“When you enter, it’ll be a vaulted space, two stories, so you’ll be able to see people coming and going on the second floor,” Hamm said, “which will be a vast improvement from what is currently there now.”
Once inside, renovations to the first floor will include a new check-in area, lounge, multipurpose rooms, three new studio spaces, and upgrades to offices, restrooms and storage and utility spaces. A new child care area will be added with an outdoor playground, and the aquatic area will be reworked entirely.
Everything will include new finishes, fixtures, paint, lighting and flooring.
“It’ll change the nature of this space vastly,” Hamm said.
On the second floor, the fitness area will get an additional 3,000 square feet of space by removing some existing walls. The DRC will also look at adding new fitness equipment once completed, Seitz said.
The construction work will necessitate some temporary moves of equipment and programs.
The DRC plans on keeping the building open during construction, but will move some of the programs to other places, such as the Oaklawn Activity Center. The DRC has also looked into expanding the OAC’s hours and adding more fitness equipment until construction at the DRC is complete.
“The equipment out there is better than what we have here. We don’t have as much of it out there, but it’s great equipment,” Seitz said. “We are asking everyone to be patient, because it is going to be quite a project, and it’ll interrupt a lot of the activities we have going on there. This place is going to look totally new.”
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