Farmington Hills hoped to have residents enjoying its new activities center, affectionately known as “The Hawk,” in the former Harrison High School building this fall. But, the pandemic had other plans.
The project, classified as non-essential, was put on pause as emergency orders shut down businesses throughout Michigan in spring. Work on the Farmington Hills Activity Center initially got started in September 2019.
“During the spring, everything did need to stop,” Ellen Schnackel, the city’s director of special services, explained. “Then, once we got going, there were some slight delays just because of some supply chains that got backed up.”
Now, the city is expecting to open the center by April 1. The city has poured $22.5 million into the first two of the building’s three floors since buying the space for $500,000 from Farmington Public Schools. Once completed, The Hawk will host a variety of recreation, arts and community-focused facilities.
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Jeff Hotchkiss, the city’s facilities supervisor, said he’s most looking forward to the building’s pool, which will accommodate leisure swimmers and those who swim for exercise. The center will also include new and old amenities like a fitness center, 10 outdoor pickleball courts, athletic fields, two dance studios and a gymnasium. For those familiar with Harrison, the gym won’t look very different.
“In the gymnasium, really we added air conditioning there but it was in such good shape we left it pretty the same,” Schnackel said.
On the arts and community fronts, The Hawk will house a black box theater, an updated auditorium, updated art and makerspace rooms, a multipurpose center, food service and space for birthday parties. On the building’s third floor, the city is looking to rent space to businesses and other community programs.
Though the building, which already has a more open floor plan than Harrison did while operating as a high school, will be new in a lot of ways, Harrison alumni and fans will see plenty of nods to the old school. On the first floor, the city is creating a virtual “legacy wall.”
“Every single thing in the building has been digitized,” Schnackel said. “That’s part of what’s happening with the legacy wall. So, pictures were taken of everything and then … there’s a huge touch screen where you can get tons of information and images about something.”
When The Hawk does open, the city’s Costick Activities Center will not go away. As parks and recreation staff and after-school programs largely move to The Hawk, Schnackel said the city plans to invest in the Costick Center and turn its focus to senior citizens.
“Our hope is to expand our