UW Tacoma, YMCA to partner on new downtown facility

The University of Washington Tacoma and the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties announced Wednesday they will collaborate to build a full-service YMCA facility located on the UW Tacoma campus to serve UW Tacoma students, faculty and staff, as well as all YMCA members.

The two groups are exploring a 55,000- to 70,000-square-foot facility at South 17th Street and Market Street in downtown Tacoma. The project is in a preliminary stage of development, but the expected amenities could include cardiovascular and weight rooms, group exercise rooms, a gymnasium, locker rooms, and a child watch area. In addition, students will determine how to utilize spaces dedicated for student assembly, student government, and other student activities. The facility will be open to all UW Tacoma students, faculty, and staff, to current YMCA members, and will enhance YMCA offerings to its growing downtown membership.

“This collaboration will create a tremendous resource for both our students and the Y with a building and set of programs that jointly provide so much more than either institution could offer on its own,” said UW Tacoma Chancellor Debra Friedman. “We are proud of this innovative collaboration, which will serve as a best-practice model for urban-serving universities like UW Tacoma.”

“The Y looks forward to offering health and well-being services to UW Tacoma students, and expanding offerings to Y members and the community,” said the Y’s President and CEO Bob Ecklund. “Healthier students contribute to an overall healthier community.

“This is also a tangible example of two Tacoma-based organizations working together to build the social and economic capacity of our city,” added Ecklund.

Elizabeth Pierini, president of the Associated Students of UW Tacoma, said she is looking forward to having a centralized place on campus where students will come together outside of class to be healthy and active, while having access to a wide range of student services that will be located in the center, such as clubs, events, student government and other services. What those services and activities will be will depend largely on student input on the project over the next few months.

“It’s going to be amazing. The center will really help build a greater sense of community for students outside of class,” says Pierini. “Students are excited to be working with the Y and building a community partnership. It’s a great stepping stone for getting students involved on campus and will provide opportunities for students to connect with the community.”

Last year, a student center planning committee explored how UW Tacoma could build a recreation center and student union, which were identified as top priorities among students in a comprehensive survey of students a few years earlier. This University Y will combine both the functions of a recreation center and student union.

A process kicks off next week to give all UW Tacoma students opportunities to share what they’d like to see in the center. An open forum is scheduled to present preliminary plans and solicit feedback on Weds., Jan. 23, between 12:15 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. in the Longshoremen’s Hall, located at 1710 Market Street. The forum for students is open to the community as well. The recreation and activity center will be funded through a student fee, as similar facilities are on other campuses across the country.

“There is a lot of work to be done to generate all the student feedback and to engage them not only with the design of the building, but in how it will take the campus to the next level of service,” said Pierini. In the next several months, UW Tacoma officials will work with UW (Seattle) offices of Planning and Budgeting, Treasury, and Capital Projects Office to finalize plans, and in late spring expect to take this to the UW Architectural Commission and the UW Board of Regents for review and approval.

The University of Washington campus in downtown Tacoma. (PHOTO COURTESY UW TACOMA)