Spartan YMCA to incorporate favorite elements of other Y’s

May 7, 2010
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Thirteen months. That’s the goal for the completion of construction of the $19 million Spartan Stores YMCA slated for Metro Health Village in Wyoming.

Groundbreaking ceremonies are scheduled for 10 a.m. May 11, rain or shine, YMCA Association Director of Marketing and Communications Cyndy Vogt said. Festivities will include a “mini-parade,” music by Wyoming schools children, appearances by city officials, and words from YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids President and CEO Ron Nelson and Spartan Stores Chairman Craig C. Sturken.

The events will be located across the street from the currently muddy construction site at 5722 Metro Way, Vogt said.

The deadline to swing open the doors is June 11, 2011, said Brett Butler, association properties director and project manager. Sara DeMann is acting executive director of the Spartan Stores YMCA.

Butler said construction manager is Rockford Construction and the company’s Pete Michell is project manager. The two-story, 96,000-square-foot masonry and glass building, designed by Craig Janetzke of Design Plus, will combine favorite features from other YMCA buildings around Grand Rapids and Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards with a unique “Michigan natural” theme that brings the outdoors in, he said.

“We have actually taken our most favorite elements from each of our existing Y’s and combined those elements into this new state-of-the-art YMCA,” Butler said. “We solicit feedback from our membership on a regular basis, and so we incorporated that feedback as well as the expertise of our program directors at each of our facilities. We incorporated all those great ideas into our design process.”

Butler said the goal of the YMCA, which now requires that all of its buildings are constructed to LEED standards, is to seek silver certification under the energy-savings and eco-friendly program.

“We turned what might be called the traditional LEED process on its head,” Butler added. “Many start out with the LEED scorecard and pick their points. We set the scorecard aside and said let’s design the most sustainable facility that has the most efficient operating costs that we can design … and then let’s take the scorecard out and see how well we did.”

The initial design easily fell into LEED’s basic certification level, Butler said. “It’s a bit early to know where we are going to end up,” he said.

In the administrative areas and the child centers, the building will utilize a heat pump to capture heat released in the air conditioning process for water heating, Butler said. The YMCA uses a substantial amount of water for pools and showers, in particular.

“That water all comes in at about 50 degrees from the city of Wyoming. We’re going to use this heat that’s rejected from the air conditioning cycle to pre-heat that water, and at the same time, we are going to use the cold from that water to produce the air conditioning, which makes a very efficient air conditioning system and at the same time provides essentially free water heating. 

“It’s a very interesting approach. It’s all components that have been existing for years — heat exchangers and these kinds of things, but it’s just using them in a different way than they perhaps have been used in the past.

An unusual hot tub is in the works for the interior of the building.

“We’ll also include a natural environment hot tub,” Butler said. “We’re going to have waterfalls cascading into the hot tub, and boulders. It’s going to be quite a sight. The whole theme of this facility is a Michigan natural theme. We’re keying in on elements from the Michigan environment as we laid out the color scheme and as we laid out the finishes and fixtures for this building.”

The floors will be polished concrete, with a twist.

“We are going to use a deep grind so when you are walking down the floor of the Spartan Stores YMCA, it will look like you’re walking across the beach of Lake Superior with all of the shiny rocks. We are going to grind off the top of the concrete right down to the rocks. It will be as smooth as glass,” Butler said.

The plan includes a full-sized gymnasium for basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, pickleball and badminton; a lighthouse-themed family fun pool with a zero-entrance splash pad and play structure, plus areas for swim lessons and aquatic therapy; lockers rooms; a chapel; and a multi-purpose room that will be available for community organizations as well as YMCA programs.

The activity areas spill off a café at the center, Butler explained. 

“The café and the family activity center are in the heart of the building, and they form what we call the community center of the building,” he said. “So while you’re sitting in the café, while you’re sitting in the family activity center, you can look through glass into the pool and watch children having fun in the pool. You can look through glass and watch folks playing in the gymnasium. Or you can look in a third direction through glass and watch folks performing activities in the multipurpose room.

“So it’s going to be a great gathering place for individuals and families to come together and form the community that will be the YMCA in Wyoming.”

In the evening, the area will be devoted to teen activities, “to give them a place to be and participate in constructive activities,” he said.

There will be a pool table, a ping-pong table and Wii systems, as well as spots for children to do homework.

The child development center on the main floor’s west end will accommodate 82 children with separate classrooms for each age group, Butler said. He added that the second floor is being designed with a health and wellness focus, including a three-lane large track for walking and running that requires just eight laps to the mile.

“It’s the second-biggest (track) in our association,” Butler said. “There will be windows all around the facility to the north, to the west and to the south. And then around the east, the track actually overlooks into the gymnasium, and to the south it overlooks partly to the outside and into the pool.”

Each corner of the track will include a specific training area, such as boxing equipment, chin-ups, resistance bands and soft fitness such as stretching and Bosu balls, “so you can stop off at these various points.”

The track will encircle a spin studio, a group exercise room for aerobics and another room with interactive equipment more suitable for children and families that want to work out together, he said. The cardio and strength training equipment also will be on the second floor.

“We are going to be working in collaboration with Metro Health Hospital and the hospital is going to open a sports medicine and restorative care center that will be inside the Spartan Stores YMCA on the second floor,” Butler said. “It’s a 6,000-square-foot center where the hospital will tend to their patients and we’ll be providing cross-over services.”

Outdoors, there will be space for soccer and T-ball on the 10-acre site at the southeast corner of Metro Way and Gezon Parkway SW.

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