Construction is in full swing on the Church Health YMCA pool and wrapping up on the Crosstown High gymnasium and a new community garden spearheaded by Church Health. Barring weather-related construction delays, the gymnasium and garden should be open by March and the pool by mid- to late summer.
The Church Health YMCA pool and the Crosstown High gymnasium, both designed by Looney Ricks Kiss and constructed by Grinder Taber Grinder, are located next to the Crosstown Theater on the north side of the Concourse site.
The pool will be accessible only to YMCA members and is intended to be used both for exercise and recreation.
“We hope the pool will be as multi-functional as possible,” says Church Health YMCA district executive director Shauna Bateman. “It can be used for everything from swimming for exercise to water fitness classes, swim lessons, water safety classes, and recreation.”
The pool will have five lanes for swim workouts. The design includes a splash pad for children, as well as lounging chairs for recreational pool users.
“There will be space for teaching little ones to swim. One whole side of the pool will be a bench where you can sit all the way into the deep end,” says Ann Langston, senior director of strategic partnerships and opportunities for Church Health.
Because the pool will be outdoors, it will only be open to the public during the Y’s outdoor pool season from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But it will be heated for cooler late fall or early spring days. Since Y memberships may be used at any YMCA location, Bateman points out that members can access the downtown Fogelman YMCA’s pool, which is indoors, in the off-season.
Crosstown High will have pool access for their student swim team a couple weeks before the pool opens in the spring and a few weeks after it closes in the fall. The pool area shares a locker room with the Crosstown High gymnasium, named the The Ice Box in a nod to their mascot, the Yeti.
“The gymnasium will be used for volleyball, basketball, and practice space for other sports. It’s a full scale gym with seating for about 750 people,” says Chris Terrill, executive director of Crosstown High. “It will be in use for our physical education programs during the day and for basketball and volleyball after hours.”
The college-level court was designed to serve as one large court, or it can be divided into two smaller courts. Large windows along the upper half of the building’s walls allow natural light to flood in. The wooden floor, which is being painted with Crosstown High’s color scheme, was designed by RocketFuel.
Until the gymnasium opens, the students have been practicing sports “wherever we can get space, like church gyms,” says Terrill. “And we’ve been playing only away games.”
Also opening in early spring, provided there aren’t too many weather-related construction delays, is the Crosstown Concourse community garden, a project led by Church Health in partnership with Big Green, Crosstown High, and the Memphis Garden Club (the primary funder for the garden construction). The garden was designed by landscape architect Ritchie Smith.
Located near Crosstown Brewing Co., the garden will have raised beds that students will maintain as part of their partnership with Big Green, Kimbal Musk’s national nonprofit that aims to build learning gardens at every low-income public school in the country.
“They’ll be planting whatever the Big Green curriculum calls for, but most of that will be edible,” Langston says. “There may be other things that attract butterflies or herbs. We hope we can use some of the edible items in our Church Health Nutrition Hub, especially if they’re doing herbs.”
Besides offering a learning space, Langston says the garden will also provide “a place of tranquility on the Crosstown campus.” She says they’ll be relocating a set of six sculptures by artist Brian Russell, which are currently located in front of Church Health’s former spaces on Peabody Avenue, to the garden.
“Each sculpture represents one of the virtues that … Church Health builds a lot of its culture around,” she says. “They will be lit and will create an attractive view as people drive onto the property.”
Additionally, Church Health is relocating a fountain by artist Betsy Damon, which had previously been installed at their Church Health Wellness facility.
“Damon has an organization called Keepers of the Waters, and she works to keep water environmentally safe and to bring appreciation to water through art,” Langston says.
Langston says she hopes the garden will serve as a place for Church Health’s rehab patients to practice walking on different levels and types of ground, as well as a space for their yoga and meditation classes. And because it will be a community garden, they’ll be looking for volunteers to assist with gardening and upkeep.
Says Langston: “We want to invite anyone from the Crosstown community who is interested in gardening to come volunteer with planting and maintenance.”