YMCA opens first new Denver metro location in 20 years

Recreation, wellness center opens doors in far southeast Aurora

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Nestled in a neighborhood on the outskirts of suburban metro Denver, a new YMCA location has opened to serve the far southeast Aurora area.

The 40,000-square-foot recreation and wellness center marks the first new YMCA location in the Denver area in roughly 20 years, according to a news release. The location sits a short drive away from the Southlands outdoor mall off of Smoky Hill Road.

“In this location, kids of all demographics need a place to go where they feel safe and wanted,” and where more than physical needs are met, said Kimberly Armitage, a YMCA official who came to a ribbon-cutting ceremony May 11.

Her organization is focused on cornerstones of childhood, such as summer camp and water safety, along with personal health and wellness goals for young adults, she said. The YMCA is open to all — anyone can join, according to a spokesperson.

Although the new center sits outside of east Centennial, Mayor Stephanie Piko attended the ceremony to support the YMCA's expansion in the broader community.

“Who knows — maybe there's an opportunity for the YMCA to expand into Centennial,” Piko said.

Armitage, the vice president of strategic growth and membership for the YMCA of Metropolitan Denver, explained that two metropolitan districts — a type of government entity — helped pave the way for the new location to open.

The $21 million project is the result of a longtime collaboration — in a public-private partnership, the Wheatlands Metropolitan District and the High Plains Metropolitan District formed the Wheatlands Park and Recreation Authority, which owns the 8.9-acre parcel of land, according to the news release. The YMCA oversaw construction and will manage operations at the new center.

The YMCA provides programs for families, youth and seniors. The new wellness center features health and wellness programs, group exercise, fitness and strength equipment, a high-intensity interval training, or HIIT, studio, and the Joe E. Wagner Aquatics Center, which includes a lap pool and aquatics program. The location also offers youth programs “and much more,” the release said.

The YMCA has been part of the Aurora community for more than 50 years, providing youth programs through public school districts and various community locations, the release added.

The new wellness center — called the Aurora YMCA at Wheatlands — officially opened its doors to members May 17. It sits at 6100 S. Kewaunee Way.

Dallas Rusch-Michener, an experience coordinator at the location who works to sign up new members and provide tours, said he previously worked at a YMCA in Arizona. What makes a YMCA special is the “community sense,” he said.

It's about “how interconnected people are to where it brings a family experience,” Rusch-Michener said. “I wanted to be a part of the Denver-Aurora area and meet people.”

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