YMCA to be built on the Ankeny DMACC Campus

A view of the current Ankeny YMCA, located at Northview Middle School.

A view of the current Ankeny YMCA, located at Northview Middle School.

The light blue area shows the proposed area for the new facility.

The light blue area shows the proposed area for the new facility.

The new YMCA will be similar to the Waukee facility.

The new YMCA will be similar to the Waukee facility.

Construction on a 75,000 square foot YMCA building on the Ankeny DMACC Campus is set to begin as early as this fall.

On Monday, May 12, 2014 DMACC board members approved a lease with the YMCA of Greater Des Moines at the monthly college board meeting.

The Y will invest $15 million into the project, while DMACC plans to invest another $5-6 million and build a connector between the Y, Building 5 and Building 4 housing added student activity space, according to DMACC President Rob Denson.

“We are going to redesign the whole Student Activities Building. We will have a food court, a nice coffee shop, expand the bookstore, more student office space, student activity space, lounges, computer labs, as well as at least eight lanes of swimming and everything that the Y has,” Denson said.

The new building will be located in a portion of parking lot M, between Buildings 4 and 5. Expansion of the parking lot to the southwest, where the tennis courts are located, will make up for the lost spaces that the new building will replace.

If construction begins this fall Denson hopes that the facility could be open as early as January 2016.

Denson said that he believes that other community colleges in Iowa have much better student activity space than DMACC. The college has concentrated primarily on labs and classrooms because the college has been growing so fast. Now that enrollment is leveling off, Denson is focusing on growing the student activity options for the college.

“We need to improve the quality of student life. So that is what we are trying to do,” Denson said.

The goal is that when somebody walks in it is a ‘Wow’ facility, and it will be according to Denson.

The building will be similar to the Waukee YMCA, which is the new generation YMCA. It will be as state-of-the-art of a Y as there is right now, according to Denson.

“We will want the entrance from the Southwest,” Denson said. “You will walk in, on the left you will see the Y, you look forward you see the food court, book store and whatever.”

With the new building housing the food court, bookstore and student activity offices, more student activity space will be opened up in both the new building as well as the current Building 5 Student Center. Changes in Building 5 may not include tearing down walls, according to Denson but changes in the Building can be expected with the relocation of the café and bookstore.

Officials are in the process of interviewing four architectural firms.

The new Y is a project that Denson and other college and Y officials have been working on for a while, and one that he believes will be a major change for the Ankeny campus and all DMACC campuses.

“This is a big story. I say game changer; it really is a game changer for the Ankeny campus,” Denson said. “The way it is currently structured, all of our faculty and staff would have free access to the Y. We are negotiating for free student access. So any DMACC student would have free access, as long as they are full or half-time students.”

Originally it was going to cost students $15 a month, which is a discount of over fifty percent of the Y’s current student membership of $32.50. The Indianola Y that opened last August offers Simpson students Y access for $15 a month. So that is the way that it was originally planed for $15 for DMACC students, according to Denson.

“We thought that it was an administrative nightmare so it would be easier if DMACC added $1 to tuition and just paid the portion of that to them like an activity fee. So I think that is the way that we are going to do it,” Denson said. “You would be paying essentially $24-36 a year instead of $15 a month.”

The benefits of bringing the Y to campus have a more far-reaching effect than just the Ankeny Campus.

All DMACC students who are full and half time will be able to use any YMCA of Greater Des Moines location free of charge.

The current DMACC gym and athletic facilities will remain in Building 5 and will not be a part of the YMCA.

“We will be able to use their facilities, they will be able to use ours. The Y runs the whole thing. They run all of the Y part, we still run our part,” said Denson

The Y will be moving out of its current location that it has been in since 1989. The Y is located at the former Ankeny High School and current Northview Middle School. The middle school is planning to start construction on a $23.2 Million renovation of the school building, starting this summer and wrapping up in August of 2016.

Denson sees the new addition as one that may draw in more students who would have once over looked DMACC.

“With all of these apartments that have gone up. I think it would be for somebody looking to go to school, it will make DMACC look better. Even if you are a student in Carroll, look you get free Y access,” Denson said.


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