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DALLAS-In a top-to-bottom makeover, the Downtown YMCA will be undergoing $820,000 in immediate changes to make room for its first charter school. The extensive renovation, funded through a $21.4-million capital fund-raising, is part of a building plan bringing nine new facilities and 13 redos to the metroplex.

Azimuth Architecture Inc., based in Dallas, is putting finishing touches to the 205,000-sf Downtown plans while sitting down at drawing boards for a 2,400-sf child-care remodeling at the 50,000-sf Park South, located at 2500 Romine Ave. in west Dallas. Azimuth also designed the $1.6-million, 14,600-sf YMCA of Las Colinas going up at 1621 Walnut Hill Lane in Irving.

The Metropolitan YMCA of Dallas is hushed about three sites that it plans to open as part of the expansion program. Already up and running are new facilities in Coppell, White Rock, Lake Highlands, Lakewest in west Dallas and Legacy Park in Plano.

The $820,000 capital improvements to the Downtown YMCA, located at 601 N. Akard, are just the beginning, Ty Holcomb, Azimuth’s project manager, tells GlobeSt.com. A five-year plan is unfolding, which will include significant exterior changes “to give it more of an identity” in its Downtown setting, he says. The first of the planned exterior changes, including a separate charter school entrance and a lobby redesign, will be done in the initial project.

For now, the makeover primarily consists of reconfiguring the interior of the five-floor building so a 24,000-sf charter school can open for the 2002-2003 school term. The reconfiguration will consolidate 13,197 sf of office space used by the Downtown branch, the metropolitan operation and YMCA programs. Hill & Wilkinson, the project’s general contractor, is set to begin the work in August and will wrap up by year’s end.

It’s all about space planning, explains Jennifer Conrad, Azimuth’s director of business development. There will be six racquetball courts instead of 11. The fitness center will lose one of two indoor running tracks, taking it from 21,209 sf to 11,651 sf.

Cardiovascular workout equipment, now on separate floors, will be housed in one room. The number of basketball courts and squash courts will not change nor will the size of the 8,000-sf swimming pool. A 5,000-sf women’s locker room and 11,000-sf men’s locker room will be remodeled, but also not altered in size. The same is true for the 3,000-sf aerobics center and 44,975-sf parking garage.

The Downtown YMCA was built in the 1960s as a parking garage. It last underwent remodeling in the mid-1980s, according to Holcomb. He says the planned changes started out “ambitious,” but have since been pared back for long-range implementation.

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