By Ann Marie Quill

A rendering of the Cowart YMCA’s proposed new wellness center.
A rendering of the Cowart YMCA’s proposed new wellness center.

Big changes are coming to the Cowart Family/Ashford Dunwoody YMCA.

Preliminary construction has begun on a $4.8 million renovation and 2,100-square-foot addition to the facility on Ashford Dunwoody Road. The project is the first major renovation for the facility since the building was constructed in the 1980s.

“The majority of the renovations are required for ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance,” Executive Director Julie Koriakin said.

She said the wellness center will triple its current size. The next biggest change will be adding locker room accommodations for families and older adults.

“The building was very state-of-the-art when it was built in the early ’80s,” Koriakin said.

The renovation is expected to take around 10 months, with work being completed in three, 10-to-14 week periods. The building will remain open during construction. Guests should expect some disruptions to the wellness area and pool, and some major disruption to the locker rooms.

According to a handout from the YMCA, improvements include: a new 7,200-square-foot wellness area; new cardio, strength and free weight equipment; locker room upgrades; expanded lobby and wait areas; main entrance enhancements; expanded nursery and babysitting area; pool deck retiling; ADA-compliant whirlpool; a renovated teen center; a new community room; ADA-accessible bathrooms on the first floor; improved handicapped parking space; six new parking spaces; and a walking path in the parking lot.

Koriakin also said that the difficult decision had to be made to remove some amenities, including the racquetball courts, which will be converted to two group exercise rooms.

“We had to work within our footprint,” Koriakin said. “We never like to be in this position, but the demand for the courts couldn’t justify allocating the square footage for them.”

Plans are also in place to remove the playground and steam room.

After hearing member concerns, the YMCA will allow members to vote online the week of March 24 on whether they would rather have the sauna removed instead of the steam room, since there is not room for both the steam room and a sauna. Members with a valid email address in the Y’s database will receive an email with a link to the survey.

Koriakin said while some members expressed concern over plans to remove some of the amenities, they did understand the rationale behind it.

“We’re very happy and fortunate to invest in serving our existing members better,” she said.

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