A nearly 60 year-old neighborhood center is looking young again.
The Schlessman Family YMCA at 3901 E. Yale Ave. in University Park is on track to unveil a new pool, fitness center and playground as part of a $7.35 million expansion and renovation.
Jim Hiner, 60, president and CEO at YMCA of Metropolitan Denver, said the new spaces were designed to suit a changing neighborhood.
“While there are a lot of seniors that still live here, there are a lot of families moving in,” he said. “I think the uniqueness of this is that it can serve all ages. That doesn’t exist within a 5-mile radius, maybe more.”
The Y added a warm pool set to about 90 degrees. Hiner said it’s great for seniors taking arthritis-friendly swim classes, and it’s also a boon for little kids that would otherwise start shivering as soon as they hit the water.
A 15,000-square-foot addition to one of the YMCA’s two existing buildings will add a fitness studio with cardio and circuit training spaces. There are also new locker rooms, an indoor childcare center triple the size of its predecessor and an outdoor playground. Classrooms and new office space for Schlessman branch staff round out the expansion.
An older lap pool is also getting fresh tiles, lights and painting in the remodel.
The Schlessman YMCA will have about 100,000 square feet of public space when everything is open, Hiner said, plus another couple thousand square feet for staff offices.
Doni Visani of Ohlson Lavoie Collaborative was the lead architect on the project, and RJM Construction was the general contractor. Construction started last fall.
Donations financed two-thirds of the construction costs, Hiner said. The YMCA took out bonds to cover the remaining third. The capital campaign to fund the project started in 2010, according the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver website.
There are plenty of newer gyms around the Schlessman: a Jazzercise studio and Curves north along South Colorado Boulevard and 24 Hour Fitness and Glory Bound Fitness driving south.
But the YMCA is a different kind of center, Hiner said.
“Sure, there are people that want to get in, get on a treadmill and get out,” he said. “But if you’re looking for a family, we’re here.”
Lee Schlessman, 88, learned to swim at the YMCA as a kid. He is now president and trustee of the Schlessman Foundation, which donated $1.5 million to renovate the buildings named for Lee’s father and uncle in 1958.
“I think the pool is the most important thing,” Schlessman said. “It’s the thing most people go to the Y for, both adults and children.”