N.C. Research Campus could be in line for a new YMCA Express

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Emily Ford
KANNAPOLIS ó The N.C. Research Campus soon could be home not only to science but also to a new YMCA.
Leaders from the Cannon Memorial YMCA met Wednesday with Research Campus officials to discuss a partnership and the possibility of putting a YMCA Express in Cannon Village.
Express is a new type of YMCA aimed at busy professionals. These new Ys serve only adults.
“We swapped no promises, made no commitments,” said Ron Davis, chief executive officer for the Cannon Memorial YMCA.
The decision whether to build a new facility in Cannon Village is “quite a ways away,” said Davis, who called the meeting a brainstorming session.
At the same time, he said the Y and Research Campus “would be fabulous partners” because they have similar objectives.
“We are going to explore every avenue we can to be a part of the whole wellness mission there and carry forth the YMCA mission of healthy spirit, mind and body,” he said.
Davis said he first met with Lynne Scott Safrit, president of campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina, about 18 months ago to talk about a partnership.
At that time, campus founder David Murdock was interested in developing an executive spa, not a YMCA, Davis said.
But a couple months ago, before finalizing the YMCA’s strategic plan, Davis went to Safrit again.
This time, they discussed the idea of putting a YMCA Express in Cannon Village.
“It was one of the ideas we tossed around,” he said.
The Cannon Memorial YMCA, which includes branches in Kannapolis, Concord and Harrisburg, also could help the Research Campus with recruitment for the MURDOCK Study, Davis said.The long-term health research project conducted by Duke University needs to enroll about 50,000 local residents.
The YMCA has 20,000 members, and many are interested in participating in the study, Davis said.
“We have a ready-made lab,” he said.
The YMCA board will decide before year’s end whether to build a new facility in Cannon Village, Davis said.
By late 2009, the Research Campus is expected to have thousands of employees and they will be looking for convenient ways to exercise, he said.”They will want to walk or bike to a facility, and the kind they want could be adults-only,” he said.
A new tunnel under Dale Earnhardt Boulevard will make it faster for campus workers to ride or walk to the Kannapolis branch, but some people might need even easier access, Davis said.
“If they’re doing research in the Core Lab and they have an hour to sneak out between running tests, this is a concept of convenience for them,” he said.
YMCA Express features many of the same amenities as a traditional Y but without the kids. Some do offer child care.
The 13,000-square-foot Harris Express in Charlotte offers top-of-the-line cardio and strength training equipment, plasma TVs, spacious locker rooms, personal training and group exercise classes.
A new YMCA in Cannon Village would require major funding, Davis said.
“Right now, we don’t have it,” he said.
As more companies open offices and labs in Kannapolis, organizations like the YMCA that rely on the community to raise money have a new pool of donors.
“That’s part of the excitement of the Research Campus,” Davis said, “jobs and capital funding.”