SEMINOLE — With every shovel of dirt, the Bardmoor YMCA becomes one step closer to becoming a $6.6 million jewel that will house the first preschool in the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg network.
Local YMCA executives and 150 Y members and potential donors attended the groundbreaking ceremony on the 5-acre lot Tuesday morning between rain showers.
"It's not every day you build a Y," said David Jezek, president and CEO of YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.
The Bardmoor Y has outgrown its shell of 12 years on the first floor of the Morton Plant Mease Bardmoor Outpatient Center at 8787 Bryan Dairy Road. The Y will triple in size from 12,000 square feet to a neighboring empty lot in the Bardmoor Palms II Business Complex near Bryan Dairy Road and Starkey Road, tucked behind a vacant building.
"This has really outgrown its purpose," Jezek said about the existing space. "It's about having your own facility you can grow and expand into."
The new building can accommodate up to 14,000 members, almost five times more than now. The lot leaves room for expansion, with possible plans for a pool.
The 36,000-square-foot building will include a full gym with a lake view, spinning room, aerobics room, Kids Zone for child care, offices and the early learning center. A sports field will be on the property.
There will be six classrooms for 120 children ages 2 to 5. Jezek said the new location is ideal for families with parents working in neighboring buildings, and that the program will highlight "the Y's commitment to prueparing children for school."
The preschool, which is not a VPK program, is trying to attract family-membership holders like Nicole Cook. She, her husband and two sons, 5 years old and 19 months, have been members of the Bardmoor Y for about three years.
Cook, a 39-year-old marketing consultant who works from home in Largo, said she is considering enrolling her younger son in the early learning program.
"With what they have now with the kids room, they do such a great job with that and how they interact with kids," she said.
Harrod Properties, which manages the YMCA, hired Ed Taylor Construction for the job. The Y hopes to open in time for the new school year. A grand opening is set for September.
The search for a larger space began seven years ago, Jezek said. Off and on, board members sought a large, vacant property with a great location and easy access, qualities decided by community assessments and surveys.
When the lot two doors down became available, the Y seized the opportunity. The organization is leasing the land with an option to buy.
The $6.6 million, which includes the land, will be funded through private financing and fundraising, including selling name rights of the building and classrooms.
Brenda Clinton, 72, of Pinellas Park, joined the Y in September with her husband. She said she's looking forward to the new building's larger workout rooms, as she tends to accidentally kick her husband in the head when doing floor exercises during the packed 9 a.m. workout sessions.
Clinton is comfortable at the Y, she says. "It's not going in and looking a certain way. It's not that kind of gym."
Colleen Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8913. Follow her @Colleen_Wright on Twitter.