JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Winston Family YMCA welcomed its first guest Friday after a ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially open the new flagship branch of the organization in Riverside.
The Yates Family YMCA, which had been in Riverside for more than six decades, passed its torch to the new 72,000-square-foot riverfront Winston Family YMCA in a celebration that included Mayor Lenny Curry and Jim Winston, of the Winston family.
Moments after proclaiming Friday as the Winston Family YMCA Day, Curry made it personal.
IMAGES: New YMCA opens in Riverside
“This is a special day for me. I will be working out here today,” Curry said.
The new branch will focus on improving the health and wellness of the community. Its hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
“We were a family at Yates and now we’re a bigger family at Winston,” said Cynthia Williams Sharp. “I love it!”
Sharp said it’s a dream come true for her and others who used the Yates YMCA for years. After $21 million and a year of construction, the new building, which could hold the old building with room to spare, was opened.
Bodybuilder Jake Cosley said he was pleasantly surprised by the facility.
“I really didn’t expect it to be this big,” he said. “They got a lot of new stuff I didn’t realize. Like they added the pool, the Jaguars basketball court, all that stuff. My hands are pretty greasy, though, from breaking in all the stuff.”
The new YMCA has two indoor lap pools, set to two different temperatures, an indoor track to beat the heat while getting in cardio and a spiritual wellness space for meditation if you want some peace and quiet.
“This pool has two more lanes, and we’re going to have four diving blocks, and the lanes are wider. And we have a warming pool, which wasn’t at the last pool before,” junior swimmer Logan Rosborough said.
The entire facility, which overlooks the St. Johns River, is geared with state-of-the-art equipment, like the Queenax machine that features rope pulling, rowing and various upper body and core training moves.
One of the key features of the facility is the Healthy Living Center, which offers a free one-stop shop for the community to get additional health and wellness information from doctors and experts from Brooks Rehab, Baptist Health and Florida Blue.
A cafe will open at the facility soon.
The Yates building will be demolished and replaced with parking for members.