Kettering’s Rosewood Arts Center appears to be in its final months of a three-year renovation that has seen cost estimates rise to $6.74 million.
Crews are in the midst of the last of three phases, with this one including painting and drawing studios, classrooms, a printmaking studio and a 160-seat, ADA-accessible theater featuring new sound and lighting systems, according to the city.
The theater overhaul will include replacing outdated equipment, some of it more than 30 years old, said Kettering Parks Recreation & Cultural Arts Director Mary Beth O’Dell.
“This will be a dramatic improvement in terms of technology,” O’Dell said. “It’s not Schuster Center quality. But it will be a very good, small, intimate (venue) with the appropriate lighting and sound associated with that kind of space.”
Project cost estimates in 2021 were about $4.3 million and climbed to $5 million by October 2022, according to the city. Initial projections of $1 million for the renovation’s final stage grew to about $2 million this past spring, Kettering records show.
More than $1.5 million of the current total came from grants and private funding, according to the city. But the renovation’s rising costs have been openly criticized by one Kettering resident.
Money spent on landscaping and an outdoor building mural were among the items singled out by Sterling Abernathy.
“Do you honestly believe that most Kettering residents want their tax dollars used to fund these Rosewood items?” Abernathy asked city council last month.
Even with outside funding, “Kettering taxpayers will still be on the hook for $5.3 million for Rosewood,” he added.
The 58-year-old former school building off Olsen Drive along Indian Riffle Park shut down Aug. 28 before reopening this week, according to the city.
“There were still a lot of things that needed to be moved … We still had things in the theater and in some of the classrooms.”
It was the second of three closings expected at the center this year. The first was in March and the last is set for the final week of the year, when Kettering hopes to finish the project, O’Dell said.
December “will be a short closure,” she said. “We don’t have a lot of classes scheduled at that time. But that will be kind of the final touches” and “give us some wiggle room” should there be a need to install equipment in areas not yet completed.
The printmaking studio will be the first community-accessible one in the region, available for classes and independent studio time, according to Shayna McConville, division manager of cultural arts for the city.
Phase II work included completion of the metals and glass, and ceramic studios. Ceramics upgrades included a new kiln and glazing room, O’Dell said.