On Tuesday

On Tuesday

New fitness and wellness center to open at Emerald Heights next summer

Residents of Emerald Heights Retirement Community in Redmond will soon have 7.8 million reasons to look and feel their best.

Residents of Emerald Heights Retirement Community in Redmond will soon have 7.8 million reasons to look and feel their best.

On Tuesday afternoon, they joined board members, staff and others for a groundbreaking ceremony for the community’s new $7.8 million fitness and wellness center. The new facility is the result of six years of planning and is scheduled to be completed June of next year.

The building will include a 30-foot-by-60-foot swimming pool, equipment room for strength and cardiovascular training as well as an exercise room for tai chi, yoga and other group exercise classes. Previously, the campus’ multipurpose room was used for classes.

In addition, the center will have a spa and beauty salon with two treatment rooms for massages, facials, manicures, pedicures and other pampering services.

“It’s an exciting thing,” said Emerald Heights President and Chief Executive Office Lisa Hardy. “It’ll be so much bigger and better (than the current fitness center).”

Hardy said the fitness and wellness center was prompted by high demand as 60 percent of the roughly 460 residents at Emerald Heights utilize the current fitness center. They have outgrown the current center, she said. The new building will be 12,000 square feet — more than twice the size of the current 5,975 square-foot building — and offer more options for residents.

Hardy said with a bigger facility, she hopes more residents will be inspired to exercise.

“We’ve really embraced wellness as a whole, as a community,” she said.

To pay for the fitness and wellness center, Hardy said Emerald Heights has built up some cash reserves and they plan to use that to fund the project. The retirement community is also looking into banking partners to help with financing, but nothing is finalized yet.

The planning process for the center began in 2005 as part of Emerald Heights’ master plan and was a collaboration among staff, board members, residents and the architecture firm and contractors who designed and will build it. Building the new facility became a high priority in 2007 when Emerald Heights board members and staff saw how important it was to residents.

Bremerton-based Rice Fergus Miller, Inc. is the architecture firm that has worked with Emerald Heights since the master plan work began and designed the new facility. Senior principal Mike Miller said he has enjoyed working with everyone.

“It’s been great,” he said. “The residents have been terrific. They’re knowledgeable. They know what they want. They’ve been consistent in what they’ve said.”

And one of the things residents have said is that they would like the current fitness center to remain open while the new one is being constructed. Miller said this presented a challenge because they had to figure out where to put the new building, which will be located right next to the current fitness center, taking over part of a parking lot and a number of carports.

Bill DeJarlais — a principal for GLY Construction in Bellevue, the contractors for the project — said this will present a challenge for them as well because they will be working in a residential setting, versus a commercial setting.

“We’re working in people’s homes, in essence,” he said.

Because of this, DeJarlais said he and his team will be working on a very tight site because people will need access to the current fitness center, their apartments and other buildings around Emerald Heights. Working out the safety and logistical points of the plan is a challenge, but DeJarlais said he has spent a lot of time working with Emerald Heights staff to ensure things go well. He added that GLY has been doing renovations around the Emerald Heights campus for about three years, so they already have an established relationship with the community.

Once the fitness and wellness center opens, Hardy said the old one will demolished and a new multipurpose building will be built in its place. This building will also connect the main building with the fitness and wellness center, which will start out as a standalone building.

Jack Wright, an Emerald Heights resident for almost 19 years, was among those who broke ground for the new center. As a board member at the time, he also broke ground when Emerald Heights was initially constructed in November 1990. He served on the residents’ council for a number of years and sat on various committees.

Wright spoke a few words at Tuesday’s ceremony, comparing the Tuesday’s sunny weather with the rain during the original Emerald Heights groundbreaking back in 1990. He also shared his hopefulness for Emerald Heights’ future with the fitness and wellness center opening.

“I’m looking forward to success and happy days from here on out,” he said.

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