CHAMPAIGN – At long last.
Eight years after plans for a new YMCA in southwest Champaign were announced, ground for the $16 million project will finally be broken.
The YMCA will unveil plans for the new facility at 4 p.m. Wednesday (today) at the site, east of Zahnd Park and adjacent to the Windsor West apartment community. The site is on the south side of Windsor Road between Staley Road and Interstate 57.
The new facility will replace the current McKinley Family Center at 500 W. Church St., C, as well as the Fitness & Family Center at 707 N. Country Fair Drive, C.
Fundraising for the new YMCA got a shot in the arm last April when Horizon Hobby Chairman Rick Stephens and his wife, Jeanene, made a $5 million commitment to the project.
That pledge was seen as a "lead gift" that would encourage other contributions as the Y approached other prospective benefactors for major gifts this year.
The new building not only will house traditional YMCA services, but also through Larkin's Place, will make recreational opportunities available to all, including those with disabilities.
Mark Johnson, the former University of Illinois wrestling coach who took over as the Y's chief executive officer in 2009, said in April that he had been meeting regularly with Ratio Architects and consultants from Triangle2 to determine the scope of the new building.
At that point, it was envisioned as having about 70,000 square feet and having multiple pools, including a pool for competitive swimmers and a warm-water therapy pool.
It was also expected to have a wellness area that includes weights, plus gymnastic facilities, among other things.
Johnson said in April that construction was expected to take 12 to 15 months. A release announcing the groundbreaking indicated the new facility should be ready for occupancy in 2012.
In June, the YMCA put its building on Church Street on the market, listing it with Ramshaw Real Estate after a tentative deal to sell the property to Owens Funeral Home fell through.
The YMCA occupies a full city block – about 3.5 acres – just west of downtown Champaign. But the McKinley Family Center building is about a century old and has required a lot of upkeep.