The YMCA of Greater Charlotte (NC) says it will spend more than $20 million to renovate and expand its 55-year-old facility, which is part of the Dowd branch, in downtown Charlotte, NC.
The project will add about 28,000 square feet to the facility’s existing 140,000 square feet and upgrade the space to better meet modern health and fitness trends. When the facility opened, the upper floors provided residential space, noted Chris Orr, executive director of the Dowd branch.
“Our purposes have changed a lot over time,” Orr says. “We want to offer programs that appeal to younger millennials and more female-oriented programs.”
The added space will include dedicated studio space for group exercise and other classes.
“We are going to have quality studio space,” Orr says. “We have been holding classes in old gymnasium space.”
The expansion will create a two-story steel-and-glass façade that will enable members to look out on the Charlotte skyline as they work out, and will attract the eyes of passersby.
“We think it will stand out, especially at night,” Orr says. “We have been around for 55 years. There is a great sense of community.”
In addition to being the oldest branch in the Charlotte system, the Dowd YMCA is the busiest. About 17,000 people are Dowd members, Orr says, but because of its central location, the branch also attracts the most cross-usage from other branches. Those people tend to come in cars, but the Dowd branch doesn’t have enough parking to accommodate them. The renovation will double the number of parking spaces to about 600.
“Parking is a huge driver for the project,” Orr says.
The Y continues to raise funds for the construction and expects to break ground later in 2015. The work is scheduled to take 18 to 24 months, and the facility will remain open during the project.