YMCA center expected to boost downtown redevelopment

A new wellness center under development by YMCA of the Sierra promises to jump-start redevelopment of a mostly vacant building at the corner of 1st and Sierra, the building's owner says.

The YMCA expects its 14,000-square-foot center in the former J.C. Penney building at 100 N. Sierra St. will be in open in April.

"We're such believers in that corner. It has the characteristics of being a hub for downtown," says Todd Christman, managing director of Union Property Capital, the San Francisco company that owns the building. "There's going to be a flood of people in and out of that building every day."

And that pedestrian traffic, he said, will help Union Property Capital redevelop the ground floor of the building into retail uses.

The YMCA Downtown Wellness Center will be on the third floor of the three-story building, and the nonprofit hopes to expand the downtown facility to include a child-care facility for school-aged children.

Along with exercise facilities, the center will include a Renown Community Health Station at which Renown Regional Medical Center and Hometown Health staff will provide guidance about healthy lifestyle.

Rebecca Venis, a marketing specialist who serves as a volunteer on the YMCA board, said the organization expects the wellness center will draw strong participation from downtown-area workers. The YMCA will be pushing a company subsidy matching program with the pitch that healthier workers are more productive.

"With all the businesses downtown, there is a need for affordable fitness," Venis said.

Tim Rowe, a partner with McDonald Carano Wilson who serves as chairman and chief volunteer officer of YMCA of the Sierra, said a downtown Reno location has been a priority since the group left its Foster Drive location near Reno High School in 2007. Those facilities, the group decided, were too expensive to maintain.

Since then, the organization has operated from centers at Sparks and Cold Springs.

"It's always been the board's desire to have a presence in Reno," Rowe said. "We've been keeping our eyes open in downtown Reno."

The new wellness center, he said, provides an opening for the YMCA to be able to provide a wider range of programs to serve youth in the area.

"I went to the Y as a kid," said Rowe. "My kids went to the Y. It provides a healthy environment for kids and families to pursue health recreation and good lifestyles."

H+K Architects of Reno is overseeing design of the wellness center, which includes an equipment layout developed by Life Fitness of Schiller Park, Ill.

Panattoni Construction is general contractor with subcontractors Providence Electric and RHP Mechanical.


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