Champaign County Y breaks ground with three-fourths of money raised

Champaign County Y breaks ground with three-fourths of money raised

CHAMPAIGN – The Champaign County YMCA has raised more than $12 million of the $16 million goal it set for a new facility in southwest Champaign.

That enabled the Y to break ground Wednesday for the new building at 2501 Fields South Drive.

Work on the 75,000-square-foot facility is expected to get under way immediately, with completion targeted for early 2012.

When complete, the Y will have three pools: a warm-water therapy pool, a lap pool and a family pool with slide accessible to the disabled, YMCA President Mark Johnson said.

It will have three aerobics studios upstairs, along with a wellness area that includes weights, treadmills and elliptical trainers, and a gymnastics room, he added.

The Y will also have a climbing wall. Other features are expected to include an indoor playground area, classrooms and an art studio.

"We hope to do some site work and utility work before it gets bad out there," Johnson said, alluding to winter weather.

He expects construction will take 12 to 14 months.

"January 2012 would be an aggressive goal, but the whole campaign has been aggressive," he said.

Johnson expressed confidence the Y will "meet and exceed" its goal, despite a shaky economy. He said community support is still needed and he cited several major donors who helped the Y reach the $12 million mark.

Lead gifts were received from: Flex-N-Gate President Shahid Khan and his wife, Ann; Noel Farms owners Dick and Rosann Noel; Horizon Hobby Chairman Rick Stephens and his wife, Jeanene; and Horizon Hobby Vice Chairman Larry Stephens and his wife, Karen.

Plus, Carle contributed land, a gift also valued at more than $1 million.

The new facility will replace the two buildings that currently house Y programs: the McKinley Family Center at 500 W. Church St., C, and the Fitness & Family Center at 707 N. Country Fair Drive, C.

"There are several different people interested in the (Church Street) building site, but there's nothing firm yet," Johnson said. "That will not hinder us from moving on. We'd like to have a clean transition."

If the YMCA sells the Church Street building before moving, it will seek to lease back the building until it can occupy the new one, he said.

Broeren Russo will be construction manager for the new building, with Ratio Architects doing the design work.

The new YMCA will be home to Larkin's Place, which provides programming and recreation opportunities for everyone, including those with disabilities.

"With this new facility, we'll be able to better serve people of all ages and abilities," Johnson said. "This new Y will be a home to popular Y programs such as swim lessons, youth sports leagues and day camp."

The new Y site is just south of Windsor Road between Staley Road and Interstate 57. Located nearby are Zahnd Park and the Windsor West apartment community.

In a release, Rick Stephens called Wednesday's groundbreaking "the culmination of a lot of hard work" by former and present board members.

Joining Stephens on the 10-member board are Amy Armstrong, Jamie Chesser, Jean Driscoll, David Hood, Greg Lykins, Kay Machula, Peter McFarland, Jeff Wampler and the board's chairman, Tim Johnson. Johnson is a regional director for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.