Columbia County officials and Family Y executives broke some muddy ground Wednesday at the site of a new exhibition hall and fitness center in Grovetown.
“It is a beautiful day,” Family Y CEO and President Danny McConnell said despite the weather at the rain-soaked ceremony held on the site in the Gateway shopping center on Horizon South Parkway near Interstate 20.
With the site already graded, construction should start this month on the 47,000-square-foot exhibition hall, McConnell said.
County officials last month awarded a $7.3 million construction bid to Augusta-based McKnight Construction Co. for the facility on Steiner Way near Walmart.
“We’re excited about the possibilities this will bring to this side of the county,” said County Administrator Scott Johnson of the exhibition hall.
“This will be a focal point in Columbia County for years and years,” commission Chairman Ron Cross added.
Last year, The Family Y signed a five-year lease worth $1.3 million to rent 16,500 square feet of the facility for use as a fitness center similar to the Y location on North Belair Road in Evans.
McConnell said the agreement gives The Family Y an immediate presence in the Grovetown area while executives work on more grand plans.
In the next seven to 10 years, McConnell said he hopes to open a Family Y branch similar to the one on Wheeler Road. Even sooner, he hopes to open a water park and ballfields at the more-than-18-acre site owned by the organization next to the exhibition hall. Ten acres of the property was donated to The Family Y by the Carter family.
“We’re wanting to start a fundraising campaign in the fall for a future water park and ballfields,” McConnell said following the groundbreaking. “We’d like to have those up and running by summer 2014.”
Until then, McConnell said the fitness center might be ready by January.