Construction on Reynoldsburg's new YMCA Community Center is expected to begin Saturday, July 7, but city leaders unveiled a surprise twist to the design at a public display of the final renderings for the project.

At the June 28 event outside the Reynoldsburg Senior Center, city and YMCA officials welcomed a new partner in the venture -- OhioHealth -- which will lease 13,000 square feet of the building for use by primary-care doctors.

In fact, 13,000 square feet are being added to the plans, bringing the building to a total of 70,000 square feet instead of the 57,000 square feet in the original design.

The two-story facility will be built on 10 acres at the site of the former Reynoldsburg Swim Club off Davidson Drive. Plans call for community rooms, a fitness center, gymnasium, studio space and indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Construction is expected to be complete by late 2019.

Public Service Director Bill Sampson said the community center will cost the city about $25 million.

Hugh Thornhill, president of OhioHealth Physician Group, said the primary care practice at 2014 Baltimore-Reynoldsburg Road with OhioHealth Urgent Care will be moved to the front edge of the new Reynoldsburg YMCA community center. He said the urgent care facility will remain at its current location.

"We have been looking to expand in this area of Reynoldsburg, especially since our freestanding emergency department has been much busier than we expected," he said.

OhioHealth Emergency Care Reynoldsburg opened in December 2017 as a freestanding, fully equipped emergency room at 6960 E. Main St., where a Burger King restaurant once stood.

"Our goal for the space at the YMCA is to have room not only for our primary-care doctors to see patients, but for a rotating specialty-care practice," Thornhill said. "We feel like this is an exciting opportunity to expand our primary care."

He said OhioHealth has been a longtime partner with the YMCA for health programs, but this will be the first time a patient-care practice will be located within a YMCA.

Brian Kridler, senior vice president of strategy and innovation for the YMCA of Central Ohio, said the partnership and proximity of patient care will be of value to the entire community.

"Our mission is simple: to promote health and well-being in the community," he said. "With this partnership, we can offer community integrated health services.

"Many diseases can be ameliorated by exercise programs, so this kind of partnership is a win-win for us and for OhioHealth," Kridler said.

OhioHealth and the YMCA will both lease space in the building, Sampson said. Details for the 15-year leases have not been released.

Mayor Brad McCloud said he is excited by the agreement.

"That was huge," he said. "There were a lot of moving parts to this agreement, but we are really excited by this partnership.

"The building will set a new standard for design and will serve as a central gathering place for our community for many years to come," he said.

Councilman Barth Cotner, also serving as a board chairman for the YMCA, said he was "so excited to get to this day, finally, after so many years."

"I love that OhioHealth doctors will be there, too," he said. "It adds another layer to the project and makes the facility that much better and stronger."

School board President Joe Begeny said the project's benefits for Reynoldsburg students are "huge."

"It is a dream come true for the schools as well as the city," he said. "We expect to partner with the YMCA for swim lessons and our swim teams. There is no limit to what we can do when we begin to work together."

Longtime Councilman Mel Clemens has been a resident in the city since 1951 -- before Reynoldsburg even became a city. He said a community center is a welcome and long-needed addition.

"This is a happy surprise, and I support it 100 percent," he said. "I know we need doctors out here, too, so I'm hoping it all works out."

Reynoldsburg voters approved a hike in the city income tax in May 2017 to pay for the community center, raising the tax rate from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. It's expected to generate an additional $6.5 million per year in revenue.

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