Mayor Jim Gray and other leaders of Lexington stood with shovels in hand and hard hats in place Thursday morning at the site of a future YMCA in Hamburg Place.
"Projects like this are what make Lexington special," Gray said to a crowd of about 150 at the groundbreaking for the YMCA, which is expected to be completed by fall 2016.
"Folks will be able to enjoy all the things they've come to love about the YMCA," Gray said.
The 58,000-square-foot complex will feature:
■ An aquatic center.
■ A health and wellness center.
■ A gymnasium.
■ A running track.
■ Group exercise studios.
■ A nursery.
■ A community room.
■ Adult and family locker rooms.
■ An outdoor playground and "sprayground."
The $20 million project is on a 10-acre piece of land at 2681 Old Rosebud Road that was donated to the YMCA by Bill Gatton, an entrepreneur and the namesake of the University of Kentucky's College of Business and Economics.
"Physical fitness, mental fitness and (the) Christian education that these kids get at the YMCA, all of it adds up to producing the right kinds of citizens for America," Gatton said.
Gatton also donated the land used for the Beaumont YMCA, and he said one of his associates said that Lexington would also need a YMCA on this side of town. He said the Beaumont YMCA had the highest membership of any YMCA in the state, and he thought that one in the Hamburg area could equal it. That prompted him to donate the land 10 years ago.
Retired schoolteacher Pat Ryan, who lives in the Hamburg neighborhood near the site, said he saw all of the activity going on near the site and decided to come take part in the ceremony.
"For the retired folks like me, having this thing right here is going to be fantastic," Ryan said. He plans to use the Y regularly.
"Lexington, I've come to learn in my short time here, is a great place to live and raise a family," said David Martorano, president and CEO of the YMCA of Central Kentucky. "And this Y will be another great addition to our efforts to strengthen this great American city."