Project includes renovation, addition of Teen Center, pool.
The James Weldon Johnson Family YMCA began work Monday on a $3.5 million expansion and renovation.
The completed project will feature a new Teen Center, Pre-Teen Center and swimming pool and a renovated wellness center.
“At the Y, we believe it is our responsibility to help children and teens realize their potential and to provide the necessary tools and resources to help our neighbors achieve health and well-being,” said Eric Mann, YMCA of Florida’s First Coast president and CEO.
The Johnson Family Y is at 5700 Cleveland Road in Northwest Jacksonville.
The first phase of the expansion includes construction of a separate Teen Center building and swimming pool.
The Teen Center will be equipped to serve more than 100 students ages 14-18 with opportunities through the Teen Forward program.
The building will add 4,000 square feet of space for the program and includes a STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math – laboratory, teaching kitchen, computer lab, recording studio and gaming area.
“I grew up in this community and I’ve seen firsthand the impact that the Johnson Family YMCA has had on this neighborhood, especially our youth, who come to play sports, connect with peers and gain life skills,” said Irvin Cohen, executive director of the Johnson Family Y.
The new pool will allow the Y to expand its signature Safety Around Water drowning prevention program to reach more youth while also creating 10-15 jobs at the Y in Teen Center programming and aquatics.
The Teen Center building, Pre-Teen space and the pool are scheduled for completion by year-end, completing both phases.
To date, $3.2 million for the $3.5 million expansion project has come from community donations, according to the Y. It will continue to raise funds until it reaches the goal.
On Wednesday, state Sen. Aaron Bean and state Rep. Kimberly Daniels presented a check for $250,000 to Mann, the YMCA’s metropolitan board of directors and the Y’s senior leadership team.
A news release said that during the legislative session, Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican whose district includes parts of Duval and Nassau counties, and Daniels, a Jacksonville Democrat, advocated together for the $250,000 in state funding for teen programming at the Johnson Family Y.
“This facility is strategically placed between Cleveland Arms and Washington Heights, which are high crime housing areas,” Daniels said in the release.
The program expansion will benefit youth in those neighborhoods, she said.
In addition to programming, the Y will use the funds to provide life-skills training, job and career preparation, health education and summer employment opportunities for teenagers, the release said.
The new programs will serve about 120 additional youth, it said.
The Johnson Family Y also launched the Elements that Build Futures campaign to encourage people to help support and sustain the new Teen Center.
The city is reviewing permit applications for a $50,000 demolition project at the site and a $500,000 construction job for renovation and expansion.
Auld & White Constructors Inc. is the contractor.