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Copley-Price YMCA set to open Dec. 1

The City Heights neighborhood is getting a new and improved YMCA. Courtesy image

The new Copley-Price Family YMCA on the old Pearson Ford dealership property at El Cajon Boulevard and Fairmont Avenue in the City Heights area is scheduled to open Dec. 1.

Designed by Kenneth D. Smith Architect & Associates with TFW Construction as the general contractor, the 53,000-square-foot LEED Silver certified facility will have many features that don't exist at Landis Street.

"The new YMCA will be able to serve more than 16,000 people, while the old facility served about 8,500 residents annually and 1,000 children daily," the organization writes.

At 53,000 square feet, the new building is nearly twice the size of the 29,000-square-foot venue on Landis. It will rest on a 3.7-acre site that takes up an entire block that was donated by Robert Price, Price Charities president. Price had acquired the property for $12.5 million in August 2009 and subsequently donated it to the YMCA. The project is expected to take about $20 million to $22 million to build. Any monies left over will be part of an endowment that will pay for the operation of the facility.

The YMCA has received plenty of donations that should not only pay for construction, but keep that endowment going for years to come.

Civic San Diego secured $23 million in New Market Tax Credits for the YMCA, which were then bought by US Bank to provide its low-interest loan of $5 million.

The YMCA also received $3.5 million from the David C. Copley Foundation, $5 million from the state of California through Proposition 84, $1.5 million from Buzz and Ann Woolley, $1 million from The Hervey Family Fund, $1 million from the Walter J. and Betty C. Zable Foundation, and many smaller donations.

Plans also call for raising an additional $1.6 million towards a planned $4 million endowment for those who can't afford to be YMCA members.

Almost all the spaces will be larger in at the new complex. The size of the swimming facilities will see a dramatic change going from 4,364 square feet with a capacity for 50 at the old venue, to 22,210 square feet with a capacity for 215 at the new. This aquatics center will feature one 25-meter indoor and one 25 meter outdoor lap and competition pool with a splash pad. A splash pad, also known as a spray pool, is an area where children are sprayed with, rather than being immersed in water.

The cross-training center designed to improve an athlete's overall performance will go from 1,282 square feet with a 30 person capacity at the Landis venue , to 7,435 square feet and a 149-person capacity at the new complex.

The cross-training center will include three group exercise rooms with one dedicated to studio cycling.

The group exercise rooms will also be larger going from a combined 1,520 square feet with a 40-person capacity to a combined 6,220 square feet with 122-person capacity. The new YMCA will also have expanded facilities for childcare and a pre-school; a 5,000-square-foot conference room, larger locker rooms, and more space for a computer lab.

Unlike the old facility, the Copley-Price venue will offer a 12,000-square-foot soccer arena, a 6,000-square-foot rooftop deck, and a 3,000-square-foot family picnic area, and a small space for a demonstration kitchen.

Siddhartha Vivek, YMCA spokesman said he likes where the Copley Price facility is being constructed on the border of City Heights, Talmadge and Kensington.

"This will be a very well situated facility with a broad spectrum of amenities," said Vivek.

In addition, the development will have an on-site enclosed three-level parking garage with room for 300 cars and a room dedicated for bicycles as well.

As in the case of the old facility, the new one will also feature a gymnasium with a basketball court.

The Price family, meanwhile, is very well-acquainted with City Heights having teamed with former San Diego City Councilman William Jones on multiple projects that ranged from a new library to the 108,741-square-foot City Heights Retail Village property that Kimco Realty (NYSE: KIM) paid $35.6 million for last year.

While an Albertson's supermarket closed in that City Heights shopping center last year, The CoStar Group reports that an El Super Hispanic Market is slated to occupy the 66,284-square-foot space on Sept 1.

What Price said about the YMCA project last year still holds true for him today.

“We would like to see El Cajon Boulevard become a major thoroughfare and a commercial center and a really active place again …” said Price. “This (the YMCA) is the most exciting project my family has ever been involved in.”

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