Residents near the future recreation center got their first glimpse at its new designs and how it will look in conjunction with the nearby property.
The town held a community open house for residents Thursday night at the Garner Performing Arts Center. Architects and staff members were there to explain the designs of the center.
The proposed 45,000-square-foot recreation center will be two stories tall to stay in line with the other buildings in the area. It will have three high-school-sized basketball courts, an indoor track on the second level, three multi-purpose rooms and an art room.
It will also have showers and a kitchen.
It will be adjacent to Montague, Main and Purvis streets.
The town currently has one recreation center, which is small relative to the size of the town.
“It’s nice to see all the new development with the new town hall, the new police station, the remodeled library,” Garner resident Lynn Hooper said. “It’s nice to see all the new development and White Oak.”
Her husband, Steve Hooper, was particularly interested because he is a basketball coach.
“It’s long overdue,” he said.
Both said they plan to use the facility.
When the center is complete, the Parks and Rec department will move under one roof. The recreation center is being paid for with bond money and from the money ConAgra gave the town before they left Garner. Drivers will be able to turn left onto Montague Street from U.S. 70 Highway when it is finished.
The rec center will have a driveway as well as a drop-off circle for students and children in after-school or sports programs.
There will also be a large grass area for activities. Officials hope it can be used for a future downtown park.
The town also bought other properties that will be torn down and will be vacant on the corner of Purvis and Main Streets.
“The thought there is once this is done or in progress, then the town can go to the development community and say ‘We have property in our downtown. We’ve got some uses we’d like to see there,’ ” said Assistant Town Manager John Hodges. “We’d like to see a two-story building because everything else is two stories. But what, Mr. and Mrs. Development community, is your highest and best use suggestion as to what to build there? And then we’ll work with the developer on what to build there.”
Construction on the recreation center will begin in June. The town hopes to be finished in December 2017.
Mari Howe, the downtown development director, said the recreation center will be an activity driver for downtown.
“All the businesses are just kind of waiting, waiting to get there,” Howe said. “For us, for downtown and GRA (Garner Revitalization Association), we’ve got the next step beyond that, which is some land to develop for new space for retail and commercial and residential and office.
“I think people are excited for new opportunities, ones that will be good for downtown.”