By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS – The John E. Alexander South Wood County YMCA and Boys & Girls Club of the Wisconsin Rapids Area will partner up to build a new facility that will house both community establishments — the site of which could be none other than the Rapids Mall.
According to a press release, the new facility will include space for programs designed to address a wide range of community health, wellness and developmental needs.
“For quite some time, the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club have been working individually and collectively to consider various facility options,” said YMCA Board Chair, Jason Deitz. “Through these discussions it became clear we were exploring much more than a building, rather a place where our organizations can seamlessly work together to help grow families in our community.”
From the news release:
The YMCA and Boys & Girls Club have identified the Rapids Mall location as a potential site for the joint project and have an agreement in place for the possible acquisition of the facility and surrounding property. The benefits of this central location are being studied, and various details are being addressed before the site selection is finalized.
The proposed facility will include the following amenties:
-indoor aquatics center
-health and wellness spaces
-STEM room (science, technology, engineering & math)
-child care center
“Sharing one facility will serve as a model for impacting the health and well-being of children, individuals, and families for generations to come, “said Boys & Girls Club Board Chair Jill Kurszewski. “It should also eliminate duplicative services while ensuring inclusivity and accessibility for all of the Wisconsin Rapids area.”
Project Funding and the Rapids Mall
According to South Wood County YMCA Community Development Director Raquel Nowak, the facility will be funded through a fundraising campaign that will be announced in November. However, while the potential sale of the Rapids Mall will not lead to the immediate shut down of businesses, it will likely mean that these stores will have to relocate out of the mall.
“At this time the sale is not final,” said Nowak. “However, if the sale goes through, the Y will be working with the current stores/tenants on a timeline to relocate.”
According to Nowak, the city-owned Centralia Center will not be affected by this potential sale and project. The current mall houses such notable businesses as Bath & Body Works, iSparkle Cupcakes, Hallmark, the Aquarium Pet Shop, Silvio’s, and Bethesda Thrift Store. The mall has seen a recent decline in activity since Younkers left in 2013, topped off this year with the closings of JC Penney and The Tea Shop.
An unveiling of the detailed facility plans will be shared in early November with the public.