GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s a staple at Grand Rapids’ Martin Luther King Park: The old lodge is a place for neighbors to meet and socialize, but it needs an update.

“Essentially what we’ve got right now is a large gathering space, a lodge facility and a little bit of office space for the neighborhood association,” Grand Rapids Parks and Recreation Director David Marquardt said.

A decade ago, bureaucrats at Parks and Rec would have come up with a plan. They would probably remodel the old lodge and call it good. That has changed. This time, Parks and Rec reached out to the people who will use the lodge.

“What we heard overwhelmingly from residents is that they would prefer that we start from scratch and build something new that is a bit more relevant to today,” Marquardt said.

The plan calls for a teardown of the old building and replacing it with new $18 million lodge. The design is still being tweaked but the basics remain.

“We’ll have a large gymnasium that can be used by the residents that can be used for basketball tournaments. In addition to that, we’ll have some fitness studio space as well, where we intend to program and run some offerings for the residents of that neighborhood,” Marquardt said. “Some of those things that really are important these days: a little bit of a different lifestyle, different ways in which we recreate and socialize together. And that’s what they’ve been asking for in this new space.”

  • A rendering of the new Martin Luther King Park loge. (Courtesy)
  • A rendering of the new Martin Luther King Park loge. (Courtesy)

A separate pool house will be built to accommodate summertime swimmers at the city pool. Some $10 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds will cover part of the $18 million price tag. Funds from the city’s Parks millage will cover most of the remainder. The city is also hoping for other federal grant dollars.

Designs are expected to be finalized this summer, with the project going out for bid in the fall. The city hopes to begin work on the project next year.

City officials believe the lodge will serve the neighborhood well because neighbors had in how it was put together.

“Having neighborhood voice is significant for us,” Marquardt said.