New YMCA branch planned for Durbin Park
By Shaun Ryan
The YMCA of Florida’s First Coast has announced plans to open a new branch in Durbin Park, one of St. Johns County’s fastest growing communities.
The new location, anticipated to open in 2023, will be one of the First Coast YMCA’s largest facilities and a part of Flagler Health+’s new 42.5-acre health and wellness campus.
The Durbin Park branch is expected to be between 40,000 and 50,000 square feet, larger than either Ponte Vedra or Nocatee branches. The three branches will be located within 20 minutes of one another, giving area residents a choice of location.
“This is a great opportunity for us,” said Eric K. Mann, president and CEO of the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast. “It’s an area that we’ve been looking at for a while.”
While the new branch will offer first-class programs for better health and well-being for all, it will also provide a safe place for kids, adults and families to gather and become more connected with their community, according to First Coast Y officials.
In addition to fitness equipment and group exercise studios, the branch will feature an indoor aquatics center and an outdoor pool as well as an indoor track and expansive outdoor fitness amenities, including an airnasium like the one at the Nocatee branch.
The YMCA in Durbin Park will also offer camps, swim lessons, youth sports, family programs, a teen center and KidZone.
“The Y is more than a place to work out,” said Mann. “We’re a place of community. Of course, members will have access to state-of-the-art wellness equipment and facilities designed to serve all demographics, but there will be so much more. Bringing our programs to growing communities such as Durbin Park enables us to expand our reach and help more individuals live healthier lives while also strengthening all our operations across Northeast Florida and ultimately, build a stronger, healthier First Coast.”
In the last decade, Durbin Park has grown nearly 40% and is projected to continue growing at an annual population growth rate of 3.28%. Designed with this growth in mind, the YMCA in Durbin Park expects to serve thousands of residents.
“The YMCA is a family organization, and so if you look at the population that’s moving there, you have a lot of young families, but at the same time, we serve active older adults, as well,” said Mann. “So you’ll have a mix of demographics.”
“We are thrilled about our partnership with the First Coast YMCA and the premier destination we’re building together,” said Jason Barrett, president and CEO of Flagler Health+. “Once complete, residents will have one-stop access to wellness programs that will ultimately work together to build a healthier community.”
Flagler Health+ broke ground on its newest health and wellness campus in Durbin Park in June. The campus is located between Interstate 95 and State Road 9B. The property was purchased from Gate Lands, the real estate subsidiary of Gate Petroleum Company.
The new Flagler Health+ campus and the new YMCA are expected to open in 2023.
ELM has been selected as the architect of record for the new YMCA following an extensive bid process.
“The Y’s programs and services foster community connections, create new opportunities for youth and provide support that will positively change the lives of area residents,” said Doug Baer, First Coast YMCA Metro Board chair. “We believe the new YMCA in Durbin Park will not only serve its local community and residents but will also help bridge gaps in community needs across Northeast Florida for generations to come.”
As a nonprofit organization, the Y relies on donations from community members, partners and organizations. The Y has launched a $7 million capital fundraising effort to pay for the new YMCA in Durbin Park.
“We really rely on the community’s support for our projects as a nonprofit organization, so we hope that the community will respond and help us bring this great asset to the Durbin Park community,” Mann said.
The capital campaign is chaired by Darnell Smith. Other members of the cabinet include Rusty Newton, David Alban, Marty Fiorentino, Mike Santarone, Shelly Boynton, Peggy Bryan, Mark Bailey, Doug Baer and John Carey.
“Carrying out the YMCA’s cause of strengthening the First Coast is made possible by the support of our incredible community,” said Smith. “Donations of any size put us closer to our goal of building this new facility and creating healthier lives.”
Additional campaign details will be announced in the coming months. To learn more or support the First Coast YMCA, go to fcymca.org.
For more than 110 years, the YMCA of Florida’s First Coast has been providing men, women and children of all ages and from all walks of life opportunities to build stronger bonds, live healthy and become more engaged with their communities.
The Durbin Park branch will be the 16th First Coast YMCA location, in addition to its charter school and Camp Immokalee.