Salvation Army Plans New Fitness Facility in California

The Salvation Army has announced plans to build a $22 million Joan Kroc Community Center with fitness facilities in Suisun City, CA.

In addition to $22 million for construction, a new grant from the $1.8 billion gift left to the Salvation Army by Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc, also allows for another $22 million for endowment to help offset some of the facility’s operational costs.

Plans were already in place to refurbish a former YMCA fitness facility that the Salvation Army purchased in the small northern California city, according to Stefanie Vrapi, public relations director for the Salvation Army’s Del Oro division. Before the announcement of the Kroc grant, the Salvation Army had planned to raise funds from the community to renovate the existing building.

“We felt like the building was a perfect fit for us,” says Vrapi. “When we went through the purchasing process, we really had a great vision for what the facility could be in terms of the fitness center aspect. The building is really close to residential areas and schools, and we knew that the kids in that area really need a place where they can go for after-school activities.”

Currently, the plans call for the entire original building to be used for the fitness center, which will include free weights, cardio and weight machines, a dance studio and several group ex classrooms, a high school regulation-sized basketball court, a rock climbing wall, a café and a reception area. There will also be a whirlpool, a therapy pool for water aerobics and other activities, and a competition pool, which Vrapi says the center hopes will host meets for its own swim league and for the nearby high school.

The Kroc award will allow for new construction and facilities, including a performing arts center and chapel, in addition to the fitness facilities already slated. The Salvation Army now plans to add about 56,000 square feet onto the building’s current 30,000 square feet.

Work to gut the original building was already in progress when the announcement of the gift was made. The refurbishment and construction of the new facility will begin in March, and the first phase of the facility should be ready for the public in about nine months.

“Since we already have a lot of the drawings [for the existing building] done, we just have to go through and make a few changes in terms of the extra things that we want to add,” says Vrapi. “We’re hoping to have the fitness center open by December so we can give the city of Suisun a really nice Christmas gift.”

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