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Planning and Economic Development

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eMacomb - Redevelopment News, Summer 2011

The Aud Regional Youth Complex

The AUD Regional Youth Complex is a great example of how an idled building can take on a new life and engage a new generation of young people.

Located on Main Street in downtown Richmond, the two-story structure was built in 1935 as part of President Roosevelt’s “Works Progress Administration,” an initiative that created jobs for the unemployed by investing dollars into building public buildings and infrastructure.  A local bond issue raised $8,500 to purchase materials for the aptly named Roosevelt Civic Auditorium.  At approximately 13,000 square feet, the building housed a new public library as well as space for community events including high school commencements, sports, enrichment activities, dances and art performances.

In 1978, Richmond Community Schools moved their administrative offices into the building.  Over the years, costs to keep up with the utilities and maintenance for the aging building became prohibitive and in 2009 the district was ready to move staff out of the building.

Enter Columbus Township resident Kelley Osterman.

“Rural youth are often overlooked when it comes to enrichment activities,” says Osterman.  “I had been working with a group of community leaders to form a nonprofit organization that could offer after-school programs for the young people in our community.  We were able to convince the district to allow us to manage the building.”

Located within the city’s Tax Increment Finance Authority, Richmond provided funding to make necessary renovations to the building.  Many community groups got involved in raising funds and making the space welcoming.  Today, The AUD is home to the Regional Youth Initiative and its mission to “engage, inspire, ignite!”  

Nearing its third year, programming at the popular community center is designed by youth, for youth.  On an average day, up to 70 youth visit the AUD to play basketball, take an art class, rehearse for an upcoming performance, learn filmmaking or use its recording studio.  Performances at The AUD take place before sold-out crowds.

A grant from the 4-H will turn a 1950’s style café in the basement into a  micro-enterprise as members of The AUD learn culinary skills and open a full service diner.  (The classic design of the café was used as a location in the recently filmed movie “Margarine Wars.”)

Supported entirely by contributions from the communities and individuals, The AUD provides a needed service.  Current sponsors include the local Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions Clubs, Target, Best Buy, Little Ceasars and D & E Landscaping.  A portion of the proceeds from Richmond’s Good Old Days also helps to fund programming.

According to Osterman, “This program is for youth, by youth, but would not be possible without the support of the community.”