Since 1974, the Northwest Activities Center has been a mainstay in the northwest Detroit neighborhood known as the Schulze community. The 165,000 square-foot facility is located at 18100 Meyers Avenue (at Curtis) and is open seven days a week. The center attracts 300,000 visitors annually and offers an array of activities, services and programs for all ages.
“The mission of Northwest Activities Center is to uplift the intellectual, spiritual, social and health conditions of the residents of northwest Detroit in particular, and the city of Detroit in general,” explained Executive Director Ronald Lockett. “What we do is create a safe, wholesome, healthy space for all of us, irrespective of our gender and irrespective of our age. So, what we pride ourselves on is that we have literally babies here and we have seniors here who are in the twilight of their years. We feel that we are a safe haven for the entire community, and that’s important for people to have a space where they can feel peaceful and grow.”
The list of amenities and services at the center is extensive. There’s a full-service health club, Olympic-size swimming pool, gym, squash and racquetball court, sauna and steam rooms, cardio/weight room, and hair salon. The Michigan Works! Association and the Detroit Employment Solutions Corporation are both on-site to assist job seekers. The Detroit Area Agency on Aging operates an exercise and dance program for senior citizens. Plus, weekdays from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. young people are able to enjoy basketball, swimming, dancing, racquetball, tutoring, and two computer labs.
“One of our computer labs is the Northwest Computer Clubhouse,” said Lockett. “It’s one of maybe 96 in the whole world. It’s an afterschool program where young people can come to use state-of-the-art computer hardware and software and be creative. We have a sound studio for them to create music, as well as the technology to literally create films.”
The second computer lab is offered through Fifth Third Bank, a major partner of the Northwest Activities Center. The bank operates a microbranch at the facility, which gives customers access to banking stations to conduct online transactions. There is also an ATM on site. Additionally, Fifth Third helped the center get back on its feet when supplemental operating funds began to dry up.
“The funding from the City of Detroit dropped annually over a period of years,” explained Lockett. “Once it reached the 2000s, that’s when it started decreasing every year as the City was heading toward bankruptcy . . . and we had to cut, cut, cut until we reached a point in late 2012 through 2013 that we literally had payless paydays. So, we had to right the ship and by getting a corporate partner to do some smart re-engineering of the building and programs, we were able to come out of that strong and robust.”
Fifth Third Bank paid for renovations to the center, including the installation of a $50,000 floor in the facility’s DeRoy ballroom. The ballroom — along with the 488-seat Paul Robeson Performing Arts Theater and a host of smaller rooms — are rented out for events, therefore generating substantial revenue for the center.
“We do baby showers, birthday parties, repasts, family reunions, and conferences,” said Lockett. “We just did a conference for two consecutive weeks with the Detroit Regional Chamber. I call us the neighborhood Cobo Center.”
Although operated independently, the Northwest Activities Center also houses the executive offices for the Detroit Parks & Recreation and General Services departments.
For more information on the Northwest Activities Center, visit: nwac-detroit.net or call (313) 578-7500.