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Proposed $65M Community Center Moves Forward

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Copyright 2017 South Bend Tribune Corporation
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South Bend Tribune (Indiana)

 

ELKHART - It's being called an "unprecedented community collaboration." Officials confirmed Wednesday that the Elkhart Health, Fitness, Aquatics and Community Center will become a reality.

The $65 million project will be a mix of community meeting space, a Beacon Health and Fitness Center and an aquatic center that will be open to the public, but also will support Elkhart high school programs and regional competitions.

The project's total cost includes a $10 million endowment to ensure its sustainability into the future.

The 170,000-square-foot facility is being built over the former Elkhart YMCA/EYCC location along Jackson Boule¬vard and is expected to open in early 2019. The YMCA/EYCC closed about two years ago.

The Community Foundation of Elkhart County is only about $5 million away from raising the project's total cost, Pete McCown, president of the foundation, said. All of Elkhart's major businesses have donated to the center, he said, with Elkhart schools contributing $6 million and Beacon Health putting in $16.5 million. The community foundation committed $10 million, the largest grant the foundation has given in its history, McCown said.

About $9 million was also awarded to the project from the Regional Cities Initiative.

Officials called the center "world class," and said it will be one of only four in the nation offering a high-level combination of aquatics, medical fitness and community engagement opportunities. The aquatic center will have a 66-meter by 25-meter competition swimming pool, an attached diving well with 5-meter and 3-meter platforms and multiple 1-meter boards. The natatorium will seat 1,200 spectators and is expected to host many local and regional com¬petitions.

Between the areas dedicated as the community center and Beacon Health's facility, there will two full-sized gymnasiums, flexible meeting spaces with movable walls, an elevated track, fitness equipment, exercise rooms, an Elkhart General Hospital therapy center and child care center. There will also be parking for roughly 800 cars.

Beyond the millions of dollars in jobs that will be created, the center is estimated to have an economic impact of $4.7 million a year, Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese, said.

"This community's excitement has been building for months," Neese said. "This facility has the potential to transform our city."

Meanwhile in Plymouth, construction is set to begin in August for another major sports complex, said local consultant Chad Barden. A 25-yard indoor pool with 10 lanes would link to the existing Fitness Forum Sports & Well-ness LifePlex, which offers a therapy pool and a four-lane recreation pool.

It will rise near U.S. 30 and Pioneer Drive at the west end of Plymouth.

Also at the site, the roughly $13 million project calls for a 130,000-square-foot building with two regulation-sized indoor soccer fields and another indoor field for an array of sports, from baseball to lacrosse. Outside, there would be two soccer fields.

Barden, who has brought the financing and partners together, said the project will draw $2 million from Indiana's Regional Cities Initiative, plus $2.2 million in tax increment financing from the city and the rest from the developers, Rick and Barbara Miller of Plymouth.

The pool will fill a need after Plymouth High School shuttered its pool almost five years ago, and it will serve Ancilla College as it starts a swimming team.

Staff writer Joseph Dits contributed to this story.

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February 21, 2017
 
 
 

 

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