Vernon Hills Park District ready to debut revamped Lakeview Fitness Center
BY KATLYN SMITH email@example.com | @Katlyn_eSmith October 22, 2013 7:20PM
The Lakeview Fitness Center will host an opening event to spotlight cosmetic changes to the facility along Lakeview Parkway. Now fitness buffs have a designated area to stretch before and after cardio workouts in one expanded room. | Katlyn Smith/Sun-Times Media
700 Lakeview Parkway
Vernon Hills, IL 60061
Hours: M-F 5:30 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Updated: November 24, 2013 6:27AM
After saving the old Central Lake YMCA from the brink of a shutdown, Vernon Hills Park District officials are preparing to show off the refurbished facility.
The Lakeview Fitness Center, renamed earlier this year, will host a grand opening from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9.
Officials say the roughly $525,000 makeover is yielding a wave of new members — a noticeable turnaround after the YMCA saw a significant deficit at its former location at 700 Lakeview Parkway.
Staff members now expect the revamped facility to break even in two years.
“With the busy winter months ahead, we really feel that we’ll be well above our projections this year,” Facility Supervisor Matt LaPorte said.
Much of the project was designed with an eye toward hospitality. Open the doors, and an airy lobby with modern lighting meets visitors.
Construction reconfigured the area to move the front desk closer to the entrance.
“You’re going to see it more open, just a lot more energy, a lot brighter,” parks Executive Director Jeff Fougerousse said. “More importantly, it’s more accommodating to our customers because they are going to be greeted as soon as they walk in the door.”
Officials moved an after-school program to the Sullivan Community Center to better suit students coming from nearby Hawthorn Elementary District 73 schools. That freed up space for group exercise classes in a room that has jumped 40 percent in square footage.
Surrounded by mirrors, the studio now accommodates an extra 12 to 15 people.
While fitness buffs hit the gym, new floor-to-ceiling storage cubicles hold gear.
After a push from members, officials have separated cardio and free-weight equipment into their own areas. The park district also has added ellipticals and treadmills and plans to introduce machinery each year.
Diane Shares stretched out on a yoga mat near neat rows of stationary bikes Monday, Oct. 21. The remodel created a space for members to do abdominal routines and stretch before and after cardio workouts.
“It’s much more roomy,” the Mundelein woman said.
The indoor pool — one of the key amenities that sparked the park district’s interest in the site — also has undergone a facelift. In August, the pool closed for a month while crews laid down new grout and installed light fixtures.
On Monday, they were putting the finishing touches on a room that has more than doubled in size for a babysitting program.
Less noticeable is an enhanced security system with new surveillance cameras placed around the building’s perimeter.
In the spring, a separate project cost about $300,000 to repair 40 percent of the roof and target the structural framework above the sauna room.
The village and the park district brokered a deal to save the long-struggling facility after the financially-strapped Lake County Family YMCA announced it would close its Vernon Hills and Waukegan branches.
A fundraising campaign fell substantially short of a $5 million goal needed to keep doors open.
But the park district stepped forward to buy the property through a $2 million loan from the village. Doors opened New Year’s Day.
Once a three-year grace period expires, the park district will pay back the village $200,000 annually for 10 years in an interest-free pact.
Meanwhile, the opening event will feature tours, class demonstrations, giveaways, crafts and a meet-and-greet with instructors.
Updates to Lakeview will continue in summer 2014, when crews finish putting in full-size lockers, Fougerousse said.
“There’s plenty of room for growth here,” he said.