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WATERLOO — Worldwide, the YWCA has always been ahead of its time, improving opportunities for women since the mid-1800s.

In Waterloo, that was the aim when the first brick was laid in 1924 at 425 Lafayette St. Today, the building still stands, a monument to an updated mission “to attain a common vision: Peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all people.”

To help achieve that, the 94-year-old building needed some updating of its own. The YWCA is in the planning stages of phase two of its renovation. A capital campaign will begin in the next couple of months, said Executive Director Cindy Mohr.

Phase one began in late 2012, and work was completed in 2015. Much of the $3.1 million project isn’t readily seen by visitors. But they do feel it.

“The whole building got a new (heating and cooling) system. That was a majority of the cost. There’s also a new sprinkler system and new LED lighting with motion sensors throughout the building,” Mohr said.

Renovating a century-old building isn’t for the faint of heart. Mohr had concerns about whether donors would back such a project. Early on, all options were on the table, including moving to a new building.

“We looked at it from every angle,” Mohr said. “But we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”

The gym and the pool are original, though new air exchange ducts now span the spaces’ ceilings. Phase two of the renovation will include further improvements to those areas, including refinishing the gym floor. The pool itself is in remarkably good shape for its age and is used daily for exercise classes.

“We keep the pool at 89 degrees,” said Melissa Summers, YWCA wellness director. “It’s more comfortable on the joints.”

Permanent pool stairs and a new whirlpool are also part of the next renovation phase.

Phase two also will include:

A kitchen renovation.

The addition of a smoothie/coffee bar that provides on-the-job-training for those needing work skills.

Restoration of the terrazzo tile floors.

Tuckpoint the building’s exterior brick facade.

New windows.

Renovation of the locker rooms and the addition of family changing rooms.

New technology and media systems.

As with phase one, phase two will utilize all local contractors and be designed by Invision Architecture and the Samuels Group.

Preliminary estimates for phase two are about $3 million. Funding once again will come from grants and generous donations from individuals and organizations.

“I didn’t get some of the grants I applied for the first time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t keep taking a run at it,” Mohr said.


Lifestyles and Features Editor

Lifestyles Editor for The Courier

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