Jenison Public Schools to break ground on $17M performing arts center for entire community

Jenison Public Schools will break ground next year on a proposed $17M performing arts center that will be available to the whole city for live performances and concerts. The 9,000-square-foot facility will be a stand-alone structure that will replace the current administration building on the Jenison High School property at Bauer Road and 20th Avenue.

The project, funded through a complicated combination of a voter-approved bond plus state and federal monies, will include a 1,200-seat performance auditorium, a costume shop, a scene-building shop, school administrative offices and event/convention space.

"This will be a true community performing arts center with a music hall that will transform into a theatrical performing area," says JPS Superintendent Tom TenBrink. "Each of our schools will be able to have all their performances at the center, instead of traveling to various churches [like they have to now].We'll also get the community involved by bringing in performances that will appeal to senior citizens, and bringing in concert performers and dinner theaters."

"It's architecturally very modern and different than any other building on the campus, which will make it very striking," says Mitch Watt, president of Triangle Associates, the project construction manager. "Jenison schools don’t have a facility that allows them to bring in large groups for performances or to bring in professional groups. This will allow them to schedule performances year-round, creating a really good resource for the community."

Demolition of the current administration building begins in February 2012; construction starts in March. TenBrink expects the project to be finished in time for the schools to host their Christmas holiday concerts there in December 2013.

"In Jenison, the center of our community is our schools," TenBrink says. "We don’t really have a downtown, people move here for the schools. We needed to build a facility that will draw people to the community. Eight years ago, we had one percent poverty level in homes with school age children and it’s over 30 percent now. The bottom line is the Jenison community took a step of faith to invest in our kids’ future and passed the bond proposal."

Architect: URS Corporation

Source: Tom TenBrink, Jenison Public Schools; Mitch Watt, Jeff Jelke, Scott Jernberg, Anne Rothwell, Triangle Associates
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
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