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Monday, April 21, 2014

Downtown YMCA changes name

City Council members tour the new facility

By SARAH TUCKER
The Wichita Eagle

The Robert D. Love Central YMCA is changing its name – to the Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA.

On Friday, the mayor, City Council members and other officials went on a hard-hat tour of the in-progress facility.

The 110,000-square-foot, $23 million Downtown Y will feature a large lobby with lots of seating and 92 TVs. A large window in the lobby will look across the zero-entry family pool and, farther down, the eight-lane lap pool.

The purpose of the lobby is to provide a “real sense of community,” said Dennis Schoenebeck, executive director of the Greater Wichita YMCA. “We really just want it to be a gathering place.”

The third floor features studios, racquetball courts, workout areas and an indoor track around the perimeter of the entire floor, as well as views of the downtown area. The second floor includes the Downtown Y’s offices and childcare facilities.

The facility was designed to reflect the older buildings nearby, such as surrounding churches and the federal courthouse.

Architect Samuel Frey said his firm is seeking LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, certification for the building. To get the certification, the Downtown Y will need to have connectivity with public transportation, consume less energy and even recycle some of the water from the pools, Frey said.

Glass was also an important feature in the design of the building, for light and energy reasons, Frey said.

“Daylight reduces the energy needed (for) lighting,” he said.

“There’s a lot of transparency to capture the energy about the building.”

City Council member Janet Miller called the new facility fabulous.

“People driving by will see activity in here, and it will encourage people to be more active,” Miller said.

According to Schoenebeck, there are 100,000 people and 20,000 kids in a three-mile radius of the Downtown YMCA.

He said the Downtown YMCA hopes to attract at least half of them to the facility.

Once construction is complete, the old YMCA facility will be razed for parking.

The Downtown YMCA is expected to open in December 2012.

Reach Sarah Tucker at 316-268-6514 or stucker@wichitaeagle.com.

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