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Hundreds get a peek at Wichita’s new Downtown YMCA

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, at 11:01 p.m.
  • Updated Saturday, Sep. 14, 2013, at 9:04 a.m.

More than 800 people got a peek at the new Robert D. Love Downtown YMCA on Thursday afternoon, nearly two weeks before the $23 million location is set to open.

The 110,000-square-foot building features three levels set to accommodate a variety of activities, all aimed at the site’s new focus: family.

“The business model of the Y has changed over the years and the old Y wasn’t set up” to well serve families, YMCA Executive Director Dennis Schoenebeck said.

He and the branch’s president, Steve Clark, hopes the building – more than double the size of downtown YMCA’s current location – draws 30,000 adults and children in its first year.

The current Central Y, which opened in 1959 and serves 15,000 people annually, will close Dec. 5.

The new building, 402 N. Market, opens Dec. 10.

The first floor is home to a spacious lounge, meeting room and Cafe 402, a Hyatt Regency Wichita-run restaurant with healthy menu options and Starbucks products.

All are open to those without YMCA memberships, Schoenebeck said.

Beyond the public area, there are the Kids Zone play area and nursery, five spacious locker rooms and two pools – one for recreation, the other an eight-lane lap pool kept at a cool 82- to 84-degrees.

Meeting rooms and administrative offices for multiple YMCA programs are on the second floor.

The third level features a giant work-out area with a large indoor track, more than 100 pieces of cardio equipment and four racquetball courts. There are also studios for yoga and Pilates and weight-lifting equipment.

Some machines are accessible for people with disabilities, Schoenebeck said.

“We want people to not have to wait,” he said. “We want people to be able to do their activities and to move on.”

The branch also is introducing two programs as it unveils the facility.

The Healthy Eating initiative, sponsored by Cargill, takes a family approach to promoting a better diet and reducing obesity among Wichitans. The branch will offer free food preparation demonstrations, resources to teach healthier eating and nutrition courses.

The second – called Water Wise – targets low-income adults and children who need help learning to swim. The program will feature a public awareness campaign and a free water safety course with both classroom and pool activities at the downtown branch.

Water Wise is sponsored by Koch Industries.

Schoenebeck said he hopes both initiatives will be implemented in all Wichita YMCA branches in the near future.

“They really fit nicely into the Y’s programs,” he said.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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