Wellness center releases plans for Hermantown
HERMANTOWN -- A year ago, the idea of building a regional health and wellness center for southern St. Louis County was a lofty goal for a group of area residents and public officials, Dan Urshan recalled.
HERMANTOWN - A year ago, the idea of building a regional health and wellness center for southern St. Louis County was a lofty goal for a group of area residents and public officials, Dan Urshan recalled.
After all, discussions about building such a facility had been brewing since the 1970s with little to show for it. But on Wednesday, Urshan was beaming with excitement as officials finally unveiled the plans for a $17 million facility slated to open in Hermantown in 2018.
“A year ago, this was something we were all just working really hard to do,” said Urshan, a member of the citizen steering committee that developed the project. “But today, really, we take a huge step forward in this process and a huge step forward for the future of this entire region.”
The 72,000-square-foot complex will be built at the corner of Arrowhead and Ugstad roads on land donated by the Hermantown school district, utilizing a portion of the former Hermantown Middle School building.
The facility will include programs and services through the Duluth Area Family YMCA and Essentia Health, geared toward improving troubling health statistics in southern St. Louis County, which ranks poorly in statewide studies for health factors such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, anxiety, depression, stress and tobacco use.
“One of our goals is to reduce that trend,” said Dr. Dan Nikcevich, president of Essentia’s east region. “We believe this regional wellness center will hit the mark. We’ll be able to make a difference for our community and our population.”
The two-story facility’s cornerstone will be a large aquatics center, featuring a standard swimming pool along with a separate play area including a water slide. The building also will house a gymnasium, fitness center, locker rooms, clinic spaces, daycare area, classrooms and space for other community programming.
The plans are contingent upon the city receiving $8 million - nearly half of the project cost - from the state during next year’s legislative bonding session.
Another $2 million is coming from Essentia and $2.5 million is anticipated from a YMCA-led fundraising campaign. The final $4.5 million is being worked out between the city of Hermantown and St. Louis County, City Administrator John Mulder said.
“We’re doing everything we can to avoid using any property tax dollars to do this,” Mulder said. “We think we have a plan to avoid that.”
The building will be owned by the city of Hermantown and operated as a branch of the Duluth Area Family YMCA.
Essentia, which will lease 9,000 square feet in the building for physical therapy, sports medicine and wellness programs, earned naming rights for the facility, which will become the Essentia Health Regional Wellness Center.
If all goes well, construction is scheduled to begin in 2017, with a targeted opening date of spring 2018.
Chris Francis, CEO of the local YMCA, said he expects the facility will employ about 15 full-time and 200 part-time employees, with an annual operating budget of $2 million.
Francis predicted that about 3,000 members will use the facility, with more than 1,000 visitors every day to the YMCA or Essentia clinic.
The facility is a partnership between numerous agencies and organizations, but officials noted that it also earned resolutions of support from 16 neighboring townships and cities, along with the Hermantown Area Chamber of Commerce.
“It really speaks to the regional aspect of this project and the excitement about it,” Urshan said.