The Recreation Centers of Sun City’s newest facility is ready for occupancy. All it needs is the official paperwork.
RCSC officials received the temporary certificate of occupancy to allow groups designated for the facility to begin to make the move. However, they were still waiting for the permanent certificate from Maricopa County at press time.
“I don’t anticipate getting that document this week,” Joelyn Higgins, RCSC communication and marketing coordinator, said during a June 24 tour of the building. “This is still in with the County and dependent upon the County completing the final walk-through inspection.”
Boxes, both full and empty, were piled in the hallway and club rooms as Sun City Clay Club, Camera Guild and Jewelry, Stained Glass and More at Grand members were unpacking items moved from their previous locations. All those working June 24 were delighted with their new club spaces, saying they were all at least double, and for some more, than the size of their previous spaces.
According to Camera Guild President John Wood, the club is grateful that the space was designed truly for their intended uses.
“We’ll have three times the space of our old club room, with the ability to have separate areas for project work and training sessions,” John Wood, Camera Guild president, was quoted in a guest commentary by RCSC President Dan Schroeder (“Welcoming a ‘Grand’ new property,” Sun City Independent, June 24, 2020). “Having both lab and studio areas is remarkable, and the display space will make our quarterly First Friday Gallery events really special for club members and attendees.”
Jewelry, Stained Glass and More members are looking forward to working on projects without having to do it in shifts.
“We’ve been so pinched for room since we added stained glass two years ago that everyone is really, really excited about moving into this new space,” President John Schmidt stated in the commentary.
The greenhouse will help Garden Club members realize some goals that were previously not possible.
“We met with University of Arizona agricultural department staff early in the planning process, who shared their knowledge and showed us the benefits of having a ‘wet wall’ to enhance this operation,” Garden Club President Marty Hagen stated in the commentary. “Having more storage and office area will also be wonderful.”
Likewise, Sun City Clay Club President Pam Hermann said members are excited about the additional space.
“So much larger than our current space [at Lakeview] and everything will be new and fresh,” she stated in the commentary. “I think all the clubs moving into this new beautiful building will benefit from the location.”
There were still some items, like shelves in some club rooms, at least one sink installation and others, pending by the general contractor, according to Ms. Higgins. But the building is complete enough to allow for some groups to start moving in. Some pending items, like plumbing and electrical, could not be completed until some groups moved in, according to Ms. Higgins.
“Once we have a better feel for the organizing of the rooms and work that could not be completed until items were moved into the rooms, a schedule for opening for cardholders can be set,” Ms. Higgins stated in an email.
She added the facility is named simply Grand Center, because there are no pools, fitness centers or similar features.
“We are phasing out the term ‘recreation center’ and going to simply ‘center’ for all our centers,” she said.
The groups chosen, after a variety of input from residents and a study by an ad hoc committee, to relocate to the Grand Center building during phase one were the Camera Guild of Sun City from Sundial Recreation Center, 14801 N. 103rd Ave.; Sun City Clay Club from Lakeview Recreation Center, 10626 W. Thunderbird Blvd.; and Jewelry at Oakmont, along with the name change to Jewelry, Stained Glass and More on Grand.
The Sun City Garden Club’s office was moved from Oakmont Recreation Center, 10725 W. Oakmont Drive. The club will also have access to a new state-of-the-art greenhouse structure, which will help to augment the community garden operations at Greenway Road and 91st Avenue.
The Sun City Posse will also have a presence in the new facility, with a two-room setup at the east entrance to the building.
“It will be nice to have them here,” Ms. Higgins said. “Having those ‘police-looking’ cars at the center will be good.”
However, the Posse will not occupy its branch office for at least one month, according to Richard Nonini, Posse commander.
“We are working on furniture plan, Internet and telephone connections,” Mr. Nonini stated in an email. “We plan to be open Monday, Aug. 3.”
Tentative hours are 9 a.m.-noon.
“This could change as we see how things work out,” Mr. Nonini stated.
There will be two Posse members in the office, a patrol member and an associate, he explained. They will have access to all Posse information and will be able to hand out and collect Vacation Watch and Emergency Information cards.
“We believe this satellite office will give many people an easy place to connect with the Posse,” Mr. Nonini stated.
RCSC officials purchased the Grand Avenue property in 2016 for $750,000 with the intent to address some overcrowding issues at other centers.
The property was formerly home to Furr’s Family Dining, a landmark for many early Sun City residents, then to an Asian buffet restaurant before its closure. The property was vacant when purchased by RCSC officials.
“While many were concerned about this expenditure, the board knew the great value that this diamond in the rough could become for the community,” Dan Schroeder, RCSC board president, stated in his June 24 guest commentary. “The lack of space for clubs, meeting rooms and more has plagued the development and enhancement of activities that could be offered to qualified property owners and those wishing to participate for a very long time. This really was a great deal and too good to pass up.”
Ms. Higgins said members from the clubs chosen to occupy the new facility had a great deal of input into just how their space would be constructed inside the shell of the former restaurant.
“We needed their help to do it right,” she said. “It wouldn’t be good to go ahead without that input then find out it really didn’t work for them.”
The Grand Center also features a large meeting room with an adjacent warming kitchen.
The Grand Avenue property revitalization is still not fully complete. Renovation of the former restaurant for clubs was just phase one. The second phase will be to construct a second building that will house the Vintage Vehicles Club of Sun City and an archery range for the Sportsmen’s Club of Sun City. Planning for that building is underway.