GREENWOOD — All but the fieldhouse at the former Greenwood Middle School is gone, and it will soon be turned into a large, community gym and anchor for future development in the downtown area.
Plans for the fieldhouse include an elevated indoor running and walking track, two multi-purpose turf fields, which can be used for soccer, lacrosse and several other sports, basketball or volleyball courts and several indoor pickle ball courts.
“It gives residents a very attractive amenity where they won’t be restrained by the weather,” said Rob Taggart, Greenwood parks and recreation director.
City officials wrapped up designs for the fieldhouse this month, according to a City of Greenwood news release.
Renovations will start in spring 2020. The city will solicit bids for those renovations later this year, the news release said.
Kevin Steinmetz, capital projects manager, is not sure yet how much the renovations will cost, but expects it will be millions of dollars, he said. In the coming months, the city will begin design development pricing exercises, and should have a better idea of how much the renovations will cost by November, he said.
The city purchased the former middle school from Greenwood Community Schools in 2015 for $1 million. Until last summer, it was used as police headquarters while the department’s facility underwent renovations. It had been vacant since, and demolition of the rest of the decades-old building began in March.
The city’s redevelopment commission approved spending up to $1.9 million to tear down the bulk of the building at 523 S. Madison Avenue. That money came from the east side tax-increment financing, or TIF, fund.
Initially, the demolition was slated for the end of 2018. But that date was continuously pushed back due to unforeseen circumstances. The most significant delays were due to utility companies.
That demo work included stabilizing the gym.
The city’s parks and recreation department worked with Browning Day Mullins Dierdorf, an architecture and design firm, to come up with the plans for the space, which is now a blank canvas on the inside, Steinmetz said.
Redevelopment of the 16-acre middle school property is part of the mayor’s years-long $24.5 million plan to reshape downtown Greenwood. His hope is the area will eventually be home to more than 580 apartments and townhouses, 75,000 square feet of retail shops, restaurants and office space, 9.9 acres of open green space and include 1.9 miles of new or renovated streets. The city hopes to start development later this year, but nothing has come before any of the city’s boards or councils yet.
Greenwood Parks and Recreation Department will manage the fieldhouse once it is renovated. Taggart is leading planning and design for it. His goal is to make sure it becomes something the community wants and needs, he said.
Initially, he said the parks department would conduct surveys and host community forums to get a better sense of what residents would like to see inside the fieldhouse. So far, that has not happened.
“We’re constantly sending out notices, constantly keeping the community engaged,” Taggart said.
The city wanted to make sure the new space would feature amenities that, for the most part, cannot be found elsewhere in the city, he said.
“We realized we had some deficiencies in what we were offering,” Taggart said. “This gives us an indoor gymnasium and artificial turfs for football, soccer, lacrosse. It gives us a lot of flexibility.”