YMCA building

A computer illustration provided to the Herald in April shows a preliminary rendering of what the proposed 50,000-square-foot Armed Forces YMCA in Harker Heights would look like. City officials are still discussing final plans.

Courtesy illustration

HARKER HEIGHTS — Since $9.3 million in funding is now secure for the Central Texas Armed Services YMCA’s new community building, planning stages are underway.

Armed Services YMCA representatives and architects met with Harker Heights officials Tuesday to discuss preliminary plans for how the building should be constructed.

“I understand the idea is to make this compatible with the community,” said Robert Byrnes, with Austin-based Studio 8 Architects, the project’s architect.

According to documents, the YMCA entered into a deed of trust Oct. 28, 2011, for construction of a portion of the parking area in Purser Family Park.

The YMCA entered into a ground lease with the city on Sept. 9, 2013, to construct the facility on about 2 acres in the park. Initial ground lease provisions estimated the size of the facility to be no more than 50,000 square feet.

Brynes said preliminary site plans indicate the facility could exceed 50,000 square feet.

“With this facility, certain functions need to be certain sizes to accommodate specific needs in the community,” he said.

The gym needs to be a certain size; there are functional needs for locker and child care space, Byrnes said.

YMCA board member Cindy Davis said new laws mandate a separate registration area for Seton Medical Center Harker Heights.

Davis said an upstairs deck and an interior walking track that residents requested changes the square footage inside but doesn’t mean the building will take up more space.

Byrnes said another change in plans could be the height of a few features on the building, including a tower, exceeding the city’s 35-feet height zoning ordinance.

Councilman Spencer Smith said with the building being near a residential area, he’s concerned allowing extra height to the building would set a precedent.

Byrnes said the height of the roof prevents the building from having a straight “box” retailer look.

Other matters city officials said they want discussed are parking, cross walks and how sidewalks will be set back from the Mountain Lion Road to the building.

Fire Chief Jack Collier said he has concerns about the height and the building setback.

Byrnes said an engineer also is conducting a flood-plain study because of a creek in the area to ensure the building’s not placed in the flood plain.

With an Oct. 4 groundbreaking planned, both city officials and Armed Services YMCA representatives agreed to meet again for direction of the preliminary plans.

“We’re looking forward to this building, but we want it to fit into the neighborhood right while expecting it to last for years to meet all of our needs,” Mayor Rob Robinson said.

Contact Rachael Riley at rriley@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7553

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