The Greater Austin YMCA previewed designs for its new community health and wellness center in Four Points at the November meeting of the West Austin Chamber of Commerce. Promising to weave together a new community from the many neighborhoods, churches, schools and businesses along RM 620, the new Y will offer a range of innovative programs and services, highlighted by the new Tomorrow AcademyTM early learning center.
“Our new Y at Four Points will create a blueprint for the next generation of YMCAs,” said Kathy Kuras, Greater Austin YMCA president and CEO. “It will serve as a living laboratory and community health incubator to develop health and wellness programs that we can extend to other Ys across Greater Austin.”
In addition to its traditional fitness programs, Kuras said the Y will address multiple dimensions of health, including mental health, work-life balance, social isolation and early childhood education.
“Research shows that external factors, such as friendships and a supportive community, have a greater impact on our overall health than genetic factors or access to healthcare services,” Kuras said. “We intend to cultivate better community health by directly addressing these factors.”
The new facility will feature nearly 75,000 square feet of indoor and programmable outdoor space, highlighted by The Tomorrow Academy early learning center, combining a research-backed curriculum with outdoor learning and Y enrichment programs.
The facility will also feature the Y’s new Explorer Point drop-in child care center, with museum-quality interactive structures that will enable kids to learn through imaginative play. The Y opened its first Explorer Point center at its Northwest Family YMCA on December 16.
Additional features of the new Y at Four Points include a coworking space, kids’ maker space, dedicated group exercise and mind/body studios and an outdoor pool, playground and sportsplex.
A volunteer-led nonprofit community enterprise, the Y anticipates employing more than 100 staff and providing more than $200,000 in financial assistance annually.
“We know there is need in this community, whether it’s seniors on a fixed income who need social interaction or kids at a Title 1 school like Grandview Hills Elementary who need access to enrichment programs,” Kuras said.
The Y purchased the building in June of 2022 and began surveying the community to identify needs. In October, 2022, the Y hosted YAY Fest at the site, located in The Trails at 620 shopping complex, and has spent the past year developing designs based on community input.
Over the past year, Kuras said that increased construction and materials costs have pushed the total project budget significantly higher than originally estimated.
“We want to deliver on the full vision of what the community told us it needs,” Kuras said. “The Y has already invested nearly 10 years and 10 million dollars in this project. But fulfilling that vision will require us to engage our stakeholders and raise additional capital funds.”
Kuras said the Y is beginning conversations with community leaders to identify sources of funding, and the effort will continue through 2024. While she could not specify an exact opening date, she said construction would begin once the fundraising goal is hit, with the opening approximately 12 months later.
“The sooner that community support coalesces around this project, the sooner we will be welcoming members into a new Y at Four Points and elevating quality of life for all,” Kuras shared.