Expansion underway at Niles-Buchanan YMCA location

NILES — The Niles-Buchanan YMCA, 905 N. Front St., is visibly growing.

The $2.6 million expansion is underway at the location, with walls going up this week visible from the parking lot.

The expansion was fully funded in pledges and payments, and according to Jill Haboush, YMCA of Greater Michiana’s chief development officer, the construction is on track for its March 1, 2021, completion, despite the groundbreaking being pushed from April to June due to COVID-19.

“We have been raising funds for this initiative for the last four and a half years,” Haboush said. “We have had a few of our own delays, and then the coronavirus slowed it down.”

The expansion will bring approximately 13,700 additional square feet of space for a full-size gymnasium, a youth center, a teen center and a fitness room.

Prior to the expansion, and COVID-19 mandates closing the YMCA for months, Haboush said the location was operating at capacity.

“All of our space was very full,” she said. “Our cardio rooms, our studios — we were using every nook and cranny. We had a little area blocked off for personal training.”

The expansion will provide extra space for the fitness area, and the gymnasium will allow for a plethora of activities to be hosted. Activities like open gym time, basketball, fitness classes and pickleball will be hosted in the new space.

“That extra space will be used for keeping our community healthy and strong,” Haboush said.

The youth and teen rooms will help supplement the childcare offerings from the YMCA. The youth room will help give more age appropriate activities and interactions for children from 5 to 12 years old. The teen room will accommodate children 13 years old and up.

“The youth room will be set up with an arts and crafts area, as well as hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics activities,” Haboush said. “It’s actually all still coming together. We know we want to partner with some of our current partners with our summer program.”

Haboush said programs like the 4H and STEM curriculums, in addition to partnering with a local library, are things staff hope to accomplish with offerings in the new spaces.

“There is just so much opportunity, so once we get into our youth program, we will start to determine what that looks like,” Haboush said. “Ultimately, the goal is to provide a safe environment for youth when they are not in school.”

The Niles-Buchanan YMCA is open during the construction.

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