It will be a YMCA unlike any other. The new Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, now under construction at 18th and Broadway, is 30 years in the making.
That’s how long YMCA of Greater Louisville CEO Steve Tarver says that there have been inquiries about an expanded presence in West Louisville. Now that the $28 million building is going up, Tarver is talking up the unique ways the organization will serve the community.
“We started with the concept of health equity,” he says. “Everybody doesn’t have an equal chance to become more healthy. The choices people make are the choices people have. We’re trying to expand the choices. We have a very collaborative facility that is going to be available to the broader community.”
Tarver emphasizes that the new YMCA is a partnership, with services including a pediatric and family medicine clinic, a rehabilitation center, other health services, and even a bank branch inside the two-story 76,500 square foot structure.
Norton Healthcare, Republic Bank, ProRehab Physical Therapy, and Family and Children’s Place are partners in the project and will have space on-site to provide services. Republic Bank will also offer financial literacy and related training classes in its branch.
Tarver says the presence of partners helped the YMCA decide to act on the request from residents to expand into the West End.
“We’ve got a beautiful, longstanding YMCA at 10th and Chestnut that has been our presence there for many decades,” he says. “As we got involved in the conversation about health and health equity, a broader definition of health beyond fitness, we knew if we wanted to make a difference we had to collaborate with others.
“There’s no one agency or organization that can bring up the overall health of our community.”
Situated on a prominent corner at 18th and Broadway, the YMCA will be next door to Passport Health Plan’s headquarters in what many are calling the new “Gateway to the West End.” It represents an opportunity for the YMCA to help usher in a new attitude toward health and healthcare.
“It looks like our culture is changing from curative health, which is about taking care of people when they’re sick, to a healthcare system that looks at quality of life,” he says, citing statistics that show nearly 40 percent of Louisvillians are pre-diabetic. “Lifestyle change can reduce it by 58 percent. Lifestyle, not taking pills. It’s clear we can make a difference.”
Among the amenities to be offered at the YMCA will be a fitness center, a 25-meter swimming lap and family pool, a gymnasium, classrooms, modern locker rooms, an indoor track, and childcare services. There also will be multi-use fields behind the building.
Tarver expects the facility will attract more than 200,000 visits annually, and will have fee structures set on a sliding scale so that it is affordable. Many of the new programs will be free of charge.
And he has another lofty goal in keeping with the YMCA’s 165-year history in Louisville: “We want every child in West Louisville to learn to swim.”