Council clears way for new University Park YMCA to replace Canal Square branch

September 22, 2009

Akron City Council Monday night approved the last element needed to move forward plans to build a new University Park YMCA to replace the Canal Square branch.

Council authorized a conditional use to vary the building line setback and approve the site plan of the new facility to be built in the Summa Urban Renewal Area at East Market Street and Adolph Avenue.

Council’s approval allows the YMCA of Akron Inc. and Summa Health Systems to begin construction on a 60,000-square-foot facility in November. When completed in early 2011, the 2-story University Park YMCA (pictured below) will offer an expansion of current services available at Canal Square, including supervised child care, group exercise instruction space, cardio-vascular and strength training equipment, a six-lane swimming pool, family locker rooms and more.

New features available at the University Park facility -- built by Bedford-based Doty amd Miller Architects -- will include multipurpose meeting rooms, social areas, a combination racquetball/handball court that can convert into a squash court and a dry sauna. Because of the partnership with Summa Health, the second floor of the new YMCA will include a 5,000-square-foot physical therapy clinic and a pedestrian bridge connecting to Akron City Hospital and Summa’s new parking deck, currently under construction.

A YMCA fundraising campaign to raise additional money after an initial lead gift will cover the estimated $11 million building costs. While no city money is requested for the new facility, A YMCA spokesperson said the organization will continue its partnership with the city to manage an employee wellness program at Akron’s CitiCenter Athletic Club, and has plans to incorporate the program into the new facility when completed.

The YMCA of Akron owns one-third of the Canal Square building and is negotiating with potential buyers for its part. The Canal Square YMCA will remain open until it transitions staff and services to the new location after the start of 2011.