YMCA renovations moving along; expected to be complete this fall

YMCA renovations moving along; expected to be complete this fall

FLORENCE, Ala. (WAFF) -Construction is moving along at YMCA of the Shoals, and the majority of changes and additions taking place are on track to be complete by the end of September, officials said at a board meeting Thursday.

“We’re in business, and things are going well,” said Executive Director Lane Vines.

YMCA partnered with local companies Craig Construction and LED Architecture for the project, according to our news partners.

Demolition work began in mid-June to prepare for the construction and remodeling phase, set to begin soon.

“Most of the (demolition) is done until we get into the existing group fitness room,” said Craig Construction Project Manager Hatton Marbury. “That’ll be really the last part of the demo.”

About 50 percent of the building is shut down, according to Vines.

He said cancellations have been more frequent because some facilities, like the track, can’t be accessed during the renovations.

“The good news is cancellations are lower than we thought they would be,” he added. “So, we’re still going very strong into the construction from that perspective.”

Since work began, Vines said the YMCA has been able to use places like the former senior center, Hibbett Middle School and the local CrossFit to accommodate some of the displaced classes and programs.

One of the biggest changes taking place is the addition of more group exercise space, Vines said.

He said about 90 group classes—not including pool-based classes—have been taught every week, primarily in a 1,600-square-foot room and a 400-square-foot room.

“We’re going to 6,000 square feet once the total project is finished,” Vines said. “…I’m not aware of any other places besides UAB, the University of Alabama and Auburn that have that much space dedicated to group exercise.”

A large group exercise room will stand in the gymnasium area, while two more group exercise rooms—one for “Body, Mind and Spirt” and another for “Cycle Fusion”—will be built onto the facility just outside the doors. The large room will also be connected to equipment storage.

“All the spaces will be bigger than the spaces we’ve had these types of classes in,” said Cathy Turner, health and wellness director.

More space will also benefit chronic disease management and prevention programs like Rock Steady Boxing and Fit to Fight, Vines said.

The extra space will also allow for more children to participate in the summer camps and after-school programs. Vines expects their average count of about 125 kids to double.

In addition, he said the extra space will facilitate more programs that focus on summer learning loss and, potentially, preschool.

Perhaps the most immediately noticeable work is going on in the lobby. Members of Craig Construction were breaking down a wall Thursday afternoon behind the large wooden partition on the right side of the lobby, where the free coffee station was.

“We’re still going to have free coffee,” Turner reassured, adding there will also be more social spaces.

Marbury said Craig Construction is aiming to have the partitioned area shut down as little as possible.

“That’ll be open before this project is done,” he added.

Other changes are taking place in the boys and girls locker rooms, as well as the free weight area.

The addition of an elevator will be one of the last pieces of the project to reach completion, according to Marbury.

Still, Calvin Durham of LED Architecture said the project is going as expected.

“You guys won’t recognize this place when it’s done,” he added.

Keep up to date on the project at ymcashoals.org/construction-updates.

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