Transforming a Forgotten Public Building into a Thriving Learning Center


This spring and summer, in partnership with Grand Traverse County Parks & Recreation, we transformed the long-neglected historic Old Northwest Michigan Fairgrounds building at the Civic Center into the Wheelhouse, a new community space for learning.

Like other learning centers, the new Wheelhouse teaches and reinforces bike education through a variety of programs as well as independent and self-directed learning activities and will be home to:

1) The Traverse City Community Bike Shop: Sharing tools, benches, bikes, and knowledge with the public so they can repair and maintain their bikes.

2) The Grand Traverse Kids’ Bike Library: Ensuring awesome kids have awesome bikes no matter their family’s resources.

3) El Barrio Bike Fix: A weekly summertime community bike fix where we fix, create, tweak, align, repair, maintain and adjust bicycles together.

4) La Solucion: A bike mechanic apprenticeship program that trains local high schoolers to become employable at local bike shops.

5) The Civic Center Traffic Garden: A future Safe Routes To School project to allow elementary students to learn bike safety skills in a safe setting.

The Wheelhouse has allowed Norte to do better – to reach our bike-loving arms wider to not only physically transform a very visible corner in Traverse City but to help weave a culture of health into our community so we can be our best – our healthiest.

It’s been just 5 weeks in our new Wheelhouse and all is awesome.

We just wrapped up our busiest fall ever:

Thank you to the 300+ awesome people and 40+ community partners who made the Wheelhouse possible!