Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey led a cheer and helped cut the ribbon Tuesday on the latest $30 million investment on Nicollet Mall: the Douglas Dayton YMCA at Gaviidae Common.
A dramatic renovation has transformed the shopping center, once a high-end retail destination, into a 105,000-square-foot fitness, well-being and social responsibility center — touted by the Y as the first of its kind in the nation.
“I am so proud to have the Y in this particular location,” Frey said.
The five-level center, on Nicollet Mall at 6th Street, is at one of downtown’s most prominent crossroads. The Y purchased part of the Gaviidae building and has maintained its open-air feel.
“I walk in here and look around and say, ‘Wow. This is spectacular.’ I hope all our guests say the same thing,” said Kerry Givens, the Y’s vice president of operations.
Staffers and volunteers in blue shirts lined the balconies overlooking the atrium and waved blue Y hankies, cheering and dancing to the 1970s pop hit “YMCA.”
Staffers also cracked open a time capsule — filled with letters, photos, old newspapers and mementos — dating to the 1890s, when the Minneapolis Y first opened in a downtown location. Items were added in 1990 when the Y moved, and more will be added this year to mark the new location.
The Y was named for Dayton, one of the brothers who built the department store chain into a leading national retailer. His foundation invested several million dollars in the Y, a favorite charity, before he died in 2013.
The new Y has a fitness center with a pool and nearly 140 cardio machines, free weights, weight machines and an Italian-designed modular training system that uses the body’s own weight and resistance. Seven studios host 130 fitness classes each week, nearly twice the number offered at the old location.
It’s also headquarters for 400 Y employees and includes two amenities billed as firsts at Y facilities nationwide: A well-being center offering health coaching, massage, meditation and holistic therapies; and an equity innovation center offering leadership training and certifications in equity, diversity and inclusion.
With the new facility, the Y has closed its 110,000-square-foot location at 30 S. 9th St., which it is selling.
“The Y has served the Minneapolis and greater Twin Cities community for 162 years, and we look forward to continuing to engage our diverse and dynamic neighborhood for years to come,” said Glen Gunderson, president and CEO of the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.
“Together we can change lives in so many ways through innovative programs and activities that help all to thrive in each stage of life.”