Kettering moving forward with $5M Rosewood Arts Centre project

Kettering is moving forward with an approximately $5 million renovation of the Rosewood Arts Centre, touted by supporters as the top arts education program of its kind in the region.

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Work on the city-operated center will be done over five years, starting in 2020. There is $2 million budgeted in the 2020 Capital Improvement Plan budget to begin the first phase of improvements.

About 50 percent of its patronage comes from outside Kettering. Rosewood sponsors the popular Art on the Commons event annually at Lincoln Park Civic Commons and regularly displays works from regional and national artists in its gallery.

Council last week took another step in the plan as it approved a contract with LWC Inc. for $316,900 to handle the design for the project, Assistant City Manager Steve Bergstresser said.

“LWC was selected through a competitive process probably five or six years ago when the initial project looked at the combination of a library and arts center,” he said. “We have since moved forward with plans to renovate the Rosewood Arts Centre and we would like to continue the relationship with LWC for the detailed design of the improvements.”

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A resolution was also approved to allow the city to start spending $450,000 in grant money from the state of Ohio that will go toward the renovation.

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Currently, Kettering leases the former school building and grounds that houses the Rosewood Arts Centre from the Kettering Board of Education, and in turn the board leases the building and grounds of the former Fire Station 32 at 250 West Dorothy Lane.

City officials have agreed to swap properties with the school district as the renovation moves forward since it will benefit both parties.

“Because we are going to make significant improvements to the Rosewood Arts Centre, we desire to own that building and property outright,” Bergstresser said. “In turn, the Kettering Board of Education currently runs their Fire Science Program out of our former Fire Station 32 and they desire to own that building outright.”

Resident Sterling Abernathy told council he’s opposed to the renovation projects because taxpayer dollars would be better spend elsewhere since so many of Rosewood’s users are aren’t from Kettering.

“Even after a grant from the state for design and private donations, Kettering taxpayers will be on the hook for 80% and that will be $4 million of the costs,” he said. “The entire cost of this project should be covered by private donations.”

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Abernathy said infrastructure improvements, particularly to streets and also stormwater sewer improvements should be a priority.

Councilman Bruce Duke said the Rosewood Arts Centre is the second most used arts facility in Montgomery County. “I believe, second only to the Dayton Arts Institute,” he said. “Many of the residents in Kettering use it, and those from out-of-town that use it pay fees and higher fees that our Kettering residents. So, our Rosewood Arts Centre is truly a gift to this area.”

Built as an elementary school in 1965 and named for its neighborhood, Rosewood was closed as a school in 1984 and opened as an arts center the following year. It serves more than 80,000 people annually through a variety of visual and performing arts.

No significant structural or interior changes have occurred since 1985, officials said, and programs have been fitted into elementary classrooms with little building modification.

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Shayna McConville, Division Manager of Cultural Arts for the city, said the arts center is the only arts education program of its kind in the region, and one of only three in Ohio. Rosewood offers myriad classes from painting to ballet, from ceramics to printmaking, from sculpture to jewelry design, and from comic creation to children’s theater.

“We are a really active arts center, and there are not a lot of centers like us that are part of a Parks and Recreation Department,” she said. “Upper Arlington has an arts division, and the City of Columbus also has a dedicated facility like Rosewood.”

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