New YMCA Underway Downtown - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

New YMCA Underway Downtown

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Addie Olson


It will take $30 million to transform the old Polk County Convention Complex into the new Wellmark YMCA.

Monday, community leaders held a ceremonial groundbreaking for the project.

Downtown Des Moines will open the doors of the brand new YMCA next year. The 180,000 sq. ft. facility will feature an elite training center. It's something city leaders say is the first of its kind in the state.

Governor Branstad discussed the building's potential contribution to Iowa's healthiest state initiative.

"Our goal was to inspire Iowans across the state to get involved and take ownership of their own health," Branstad said.

Mayor Frank Cownie said his hope for the new venue is a community center open to everyone.

"It's the social responsibility of all of us to make that opportunity available to all of our citizens, not just some of the citizens," Cownie said.

Cownie said Des Moines ranks highly across national surveys.

"Give them just one more reason why Des Moines is one of the best places in the country, if not the best in a lot of categories, and certainly healthy living is going to keep us there," Cownie said.

Leaders hope the new Wellmark YMCA will push Des Moines to the top of the charts.

"It's a perfect example of if you build it, they will come," said Jay Byers of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. "When you look at this project I think it's going to be that and much, much more so this is an incredible project for central Iowa."

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