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YMCA of Coastal GA Golden Sledgehammer Swing

YMCA of Coastal GA Golden Sledgehammer Swing

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As part of a broader effort to update and modernize the YMCA of Coastal Georgia locations, the transformation of current YMCA locations into health and well-being centers are beginning with Pooler’s West Chatham YMCA branch.YMCA held a ceremonial “Golden Sledgehammer Swing” to commemorate the groundbreaking of the renovation project. During the event, pre-K students from West Chatham’s Child Learning Center gave a short performance. Felder & Associates, a distinguished and award-winning architecture firm in Savannah specializing in historic preservation, commercial and high-end residential building projects, participated in the ceremony alongside West Construction.

“It’s been 20 years since the West Chatham YMCA was updated. So, we found a multitude of opportunities to better use floor space to serve the core constituency better. We’re adding glass walls for openness and transparency; the childcare areas will be expanded into space for both younger and older children, and we’re adding more space for machines, cardio and free weights in the fitness area,” explained Brian Felder, Founder and Principal Architect.“The YMCA is a pillar of our community, and with all of the growth in the Pooler area, the renovated West Chatham YMCA will have something for all walks of life. It’s a very forward-thinking endeavor for the Y,” said Matt West, West Construction Company.

The $1.6 million investment intends to address challenges faced by the community in the post-pandemic reality. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the average body mass index (BMI) has nearly doubled in children. Additionally, 43% of Americans report having worse exercise habits than before the pandemic, and 31% report that financial hardship prevented them from seeking health care in 2021, according to a Gallup Poll.

As the modern YMCA pivots to an overall wellness focus, proven programs to prevent and control chronic diseases are given the same priority as physical fitness. In addition to expanded and updated exercise areas, the new YMCA will offer space for nutrition education and community peer support.

“We maintained an understanding of the bigger picture goal in making this a modern health and wellness center, so that played into our decisions on everything, from updating all surfaces, floors and ceilings — making them easier to clean and maintain — to ensuring the space we were repurposing was put to better use,” Felder added. “The fitness center is going to be better than many pay gyms in the area.”

While the YMCA’s flagship Habersham location is also slated for an upgrade, the volume at the West Chatham location compelled the YMCA board to start the renovations at the West Chatham YMCA. Opened in 2001, it was one of only a few businesses on its stretch of Pooler Parkway at the time. In 2021 it was one of the busiest of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia’s 10 branch locations, serving 6,757 members and 1,638 program participants who registered 121,839 visits over the course of the year.

“With this much-needed renovation, we’re looking ahead to the future and working to ensure that our facilities and services are ready to serve for the next 50 years,” says Joel Smoker, YMCA of Coastal Georgia CEO.

The project is expected to take approximately six months, with completion at the end of winter 2023.

“We’re a community-minded firm, so it’s an honor to work on a project like this. The YMCA is a foundational part of the Savannah area, and a lot of heart went into this. We look forward to seeing it through,” said Felder.West added, “Our company enjoys projects that improve our community, and the YMCA makes us all better in so many ways. We’re excited to be on the team.”ABOUT THE YMCA OF COASTAL GEORGIAThe YMCA of Coastal Georgia has been serving the Coastal Georgia community for over 167 years and continues to work every day to advance its cause to strengthen the community through its three areas of focus: youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Today the YMCA of Coastal Georgia operates 11 units in Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham, Effingham, Glynn, Liberty, Long, and McIntosh counties; included is the YMCA’s Before- and After-School Enrichment Program operating in 55 elementary and middle schools throughout the markets served. The YMCA serves men and women, girls and boys of all ages and from all walks of life. All of this and more is accomplished while putting forth the Y mission to put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind, and body for all.


Established in 2012, Felder & Associates specializes in historic preservation, commercial architecture, adaptive reuse architecture, corporate interior design, high-end residential design, green building, and neo-traditional building. The firm has a staff of LEED-accredited architects and interior designers who focus on sustainability. Locally, Felder & Associates is a member of the Savannah Chamber of Commerce and Historic Savannah Foundation. The firm is also nationally connected in the American Institutes of Architects, the American Society of Interior Designers and the United States Green Building Council. Felder & Associates is a member of the International Interior Design Association. In 2014, Felder & Associates received a historic preservation award from the Historic Savannah Foundation and the best architecture firm award from Savannah Magazine. Felder & Associates recently completed the Greyhound bus depot in the Savannah historic district. The firm is located at 2514 Abercorn St. Suite 110, Savannah, GA 31401. For more information or to contact Felder & Associates, call (912) 777-3979, or visit WEST CONSTRUCTION COMPANYWest Construction Company, established in 2014 and headquartered in Savannah, Georgia, is an award-winning, mid-sized commercial construction company built on a reputation of quality, integrity, and discipline. West Construction Company’s purpose is to build quality projects and quality people through trusting relationships, service to our clients, partners, and our community.


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