$10 million community center planned for Champaign's north side

$10 million community center planned for Champaign's north side

CHAMPAIGN — The founders of Human Kinetics are teaming up with the Champaign Park District to create a $10 million community center on the city's north side.

In addition to recreational and other park district activities, the center will provide a new home for programs for the Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club.

The facility, to be named Martens Center, will be built on the 8.5-acre Human Kinetics Park — at 1501 N. Market St. — thanks to a $4.4 million donation from the Rainer and Julie S. Martens Foundation.

Rainer Martens, who founded Human Kinetics, was on hand at Wednesday night's park board meeting when plans for the center were unveiled.

"As a young kid, I grew up in a local community playing in the sports programs that a community recreation program provided," he said. "My whole life has been about sports, and we turned it into a business and career.

"As we benefited so much from this community's support — we've had outstanding employees work for us — we felt this was an opportunity for us to give back to the community, to at least initiate the effort here to build a community center in an area of the community that I think can really benefit from this kind of a facility."

About $400,000 of the Martens' gift will go toward purchasing the land that Human Kinetics Park occupies. Since the park's creation in 2012, the district has been leasing it from the owners, the employees of Human Kinetics.

The remaining $4 million will go toward the development of the community center, which Park District Executive Director Joe DeLuce estimates will cost $10 million. The district will provide another $2 million, with the remaining $4 million to come from fundraising and grants, he said.

Back in June, park board members voted to apply for a federal grant — through the National Park Service's Land and Water Conservation Fund — in connection with this project.

"It's a great opportunity for us to work with the Martens," DeLuce said. "It will be a multi-service facility that will not only handle park district programs and activities, but also the Boys and Girls Club."

Martens credited Brian Holding — Human Kinetics' longtime CEO, who is set to retire in November — with serving as the "driver" of the effort to bring about the community center.

Tentative amenities being considered for the Martens Center include a gym, aquatics areas, meeting and exercise rooms and offices.

Outside the building will be playing fields and a walking trail connected to the Boneyard Creek Development.

The Don Moyer Boys & Girls Club will use the facility for its elementary after-school and summer camp programs. Its executive director, Sam Banks, said it will go a long way toward freeing up space at the club's home base, on East Park Street.

"This is a project that will be of immense importance to the Boys & Girls Club," Banks said. "We are serving between 170 and 200 kids in a building that comfortably handles about 125 people coming through. This will allow us to have a setting that will much more appropriately support the work we are doing every day."

The center will also become the home of the Champaign County Table Tennis Club.

The development is expected to be a nearly three-year process, according to DeLuce.

Ratio Architects of Champaign is scheduled to provide schematic designs by January 2018. Construction will start in April 2019, and the facility is tentatively scheduled to open in May 2020.

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Champaign-Urbana Public Hea... wrote on September 28, 2017 at 10:09 am

THIS is what population health looks like!  What a wonderful private-public partnership. Great job all!


pattsi wrote on September 28, 2017 at 11:09 am

Bravo--as this project is being designed and developed assuming that there will be connectivity routes for the young folks to safely get there because this is along Market Street--now a connection street to the freeway and Olympian extension. Right now there are limited sidewalks and no bike lanes. Certainly, we do not want to increase the car traffic in that area as the only means to deliver to the facility.

welive wrote on September 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

as growing up in that area would be a great thing to have and enjoy.