Northtowns 'Y' expansion nears

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 25, 2010 at 7:22 AM EDT

By Business First of Buffalo - by Tracey Drury

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Northtowns 'Y' expansion nears

September 27, 2013 Updated Jun 25, 2010 at 7:22 AM EDT

Plans for an expanded Northtowns branch of the YMCA of Buffalo Niagara are shaping up, with Bammell Architects of Orchard Park signing on as architect.

Within a few weeks, the YMCA will announce a construction manager and begin finalizing a schedule that should see the $20 million project break ground in 2011.

Plans call for a unique mix of services: Along with a health club and child care, the facility will offer physical therapy and doctors' offices run by Buffalo Medical Group, plus subscriber services for Independent Health members.

"Nobody's ever done this in New York state," says John Murray, YMCA president. "We've put a lot of time into what we're getting into here. It's different, very different. But everybody's on the same page."

The new branch will house similar programs and services to the YMCA's Southtowns branch, a 68,000-square-foot mega facility opened in 2003. The 84,000-square-foot facility replaces an aging 26,000-square-foot branch down the road in Snyder.

The project will be designed by Jim Bammell, principal at Bammell Architects, who worked on the Southtowns branch project while with a different firm.

Murray says the agency has finalized plans with both BMG and Independent Health to combine efforts - and some expenses - to build the new branch on Main Street adjacent to the Erie Community College North Campus. All that remains now are the final details, he says.

Already, about $1.5 million has been spent on the project, including about $900,000 to purchase the 14-acre site last year and permit and design work. The YMCA is in the early stages of the quiet phase of the project's capital campaign but is already seeing interest from donors.

"The thing that's exciting when you talk about it is this building will be more than just a place where people go to swim or run or work out or for kids to have fun," Murray says. "It will be a different look at what the future is going to hold for all of us."

While plans for the capital project continue, the agency is preparing for possibly its biggest summer camp season ever, with 20 camp programs in operation at branch sites and satellite locations in Erie and Niagara counties.

The newest programs include a middle school site in the Lewiston Porter Central School District run by the Niagara Falls branch, where more than 100 children are registered; and at Alden Primary School, run by the Lancaster Family branch.

Each program follows a similar model that is personalized based on the amenities available at the site, Murray says.

"What we're hoping is we'll serve as a model with other potential school districts," he says. "The design is adaptable to local conditions."