Merriam community center team unveils details on proposed exterior design at open house

A rendering showing the proposed exterior design of the community center viewed looking northwest.

Merriam residents got a first look at the proposed design for the city’s new $30 million community center at an open house Thursday.

The big reveal at city hall gave attendees a peek of the designers’ plans for the building as well as the site layout, which will include a spot for a new Antioch branch of the Johnson County Library and a parking structure to serve both facilities.

An overhead view of the center looking east.

The community center design features a large courtyard area. The center’s interior spaces of a lobby, gallery, community spaces and pool will all view the courtyard through continuous glass. Factors such as the site landscape, seating, shade, lighting and public art were all considered in the design, according to city plans revealed at the open house.

“The building is organized around an important, inviting public courtyard, creating a sense of arrival and entry sequence,” read one of the posters displayed at the open house.

City administrator Chris Engel said residents have seemed enthusiastic to see the new plans for a center — “something they can be proud of.” Residents could fill out suggestion cards at the open house as a way to contribute feedback to the project.

City officials spoke with residents about the proposed community center design and layout at Thursday’s open house.

“At the end of the day, we’re hoping all the feedback we receive is constructive and that we can find a way to integrate the workable suggestions in a way that people truly feel like they had a role in the final development,” Engel said. “We’re excited to hear what the public has to say about it.”

Another open house to showcase plans for the interior layout of the new community center is set for July 30. Planned amenities for the new center include:

  • Indoor walking and jogging track
  • Fitness center and aerobics room
  • Indoor and outdoor pool
  • Full-size gymnasium
  • Art gallery and senior lounge
  • Classrooms
  • Party room
  • Meeting and event space
  • Catering kitchen
  • Child watch
  • Public gathering space with Wi-Fi

Next month’s open house will mark the end of the design phase for the project. Construction could begin as early as next month, although an official start date is pending for sometime between July and September. An anticipated completion date is July of 2020.

Total project costs are projected at $30 million. Here’s the breakdown of the budget:

  • $23.7 million for the community center itself
  • $5 million for the parking garage
  • $2.9 million for soft costs
  • $1.5 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment.

The plan also includes $1.5 million for contingency, in case of delays or other situations that would cause a strain on the budget, and $400,000 for other costs.

“We put a lot of work into it, and we think we’ve really tried to come up with something that represents the interests of Merriam, or at least something that’s uniquely Merriam,” Engel said. “I think we’ve succeeded in that, and we hope that they recognize that and they value that and they would echo those sentiments.”

The site layout for the project.