Third phase of La Jolla YMCA remodel complete: Dan McKinney Family YMCA opens to the public

La Jolla’s Dan McKinney Family YMCA opened to the public Aug. 21 and according to YMCA of San Diego County regional vice president Sue Ball, when the doors opened, it was a feeling of “Wow!”

“We wanted to build this as modern and family-friendly as we could,” Ball said. “We wanted to make spaces that fit the demographic of who is using them. There is a lot more to come, especially for the children. The Youth Development Center starts construction next week.”

The YMCA, which will henceforth be named the Dan McKinney Family YMCA, has been under construction in varying phases since a $21 million expansion project broke ground in September 2015.

The newly opened facility houses new women’s, men’s and family locker rooms; a Child Watch facility; multi-functional community space; new steam room and sauna; massage room; café; outdoor wellness terrace and patio; teaching kitchen and more.

These amenities supplement the YMCA’s existing Aquatic Center, basketball gymnasium, gymnastics center, preschool, camp and childcare facilities. Outdoor spaces, which were in demand in the former YMCA campus, have been expanded.

Ball said certain amenities, such as the family locker room and paperless washrooms, will set the standard going forward.

It is the third in a four-phase renovation project. The fourth and final phase, scheduled to be complete January 2018 (at which time a grand opening will be held), will include renovated areas for preschool, after school childcare, a youth studio for children’s classes and “adventure center” with two-story climbing structures and slides.

“Our three areas of focus are youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. We kept all those in mind as we were designing the building,” Ball said. “For healthy living, we’ve created a space with gorgeous views that is nice and open. We hope that inspires people to live a healthy lifestyle.

“The new studio spaces, outdoor spaces and teaching kitchen are all tools to help people live a healthier life. As far as youth development, we are not done with all our youth spaces, but that is in the plans. When we open in January, we will offer a lot more for youth.

“As far as social responsibility, we created all these little places for members to connect, get a cup of coffee and hang out. We expect senior citizens to use our member lounge in the mornings and then in the afternoons, teens can have a place to hang out with their friends. We will also offer our community room to other non-profits and neighborhood groups. We are not set up to do that yet, but that’s coming soon.”

Prior to the most recent opening, the Ann Woolley Aquatic Center opened in September 2016. That complex features two pools including a cool water, eight-lane lap pool and a warm water activity pool, plus a therapeutic spa, a splash pad for youth water play as well as an outdoor fitness playground.

A few bumps in the road

The project was not without its share of minor controversy. In July 2015, it was announced that to accommodate the remodel and aquatic complex, the YMCA was going to remove its remaining two tennis courts, as well as a full-size basketball court. In its place, a new parking lot to accommodate the influx of swimmers was installed.

Further, earlier this year, YMCA began closing swimming pool lanes during baseball games at the nearby Cliffridge Park. No one has yet to be hit by a baseball, and YMCA staff said they are working with La Jolla Youth Baseball to develop a long-term solution.

“In the short term, we’ve been and will continue to close a portion of our recreational pool as necessary while people are hitting on the field, however, our lap pool, spa, splash pad all remain open,” YMCA regional communications director Sarah Iantosca White said at the time.

— Dan McKinney Family YMCA (La Jolla) is at 8355 Cliffridge Ave. (858) 453-3483. and