HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A new aquatic center will be built in Henrico County as part of a major redevelopment project already underway at a west end mall.
Tuesday even County supervisors, managers, officials with NOVA of Virginia Aquatics, Schools Superintendent Dr. Amy Cashwell, Thalhimer Realty and The Rebkee Co. announced plans to build a swimming facility in the old Macy’s store at Regency Square.
"It's part of our initiative to keep kids ‘drown proof’ and to teach swimming to all kids in Henrico," said Tuckahoe District Supervisor Patricia O’Bannon.
The proposed swimming facility at Regency Square will have three pools; two 25 meter pools that can be used for warm up and cool down, and one 50 meter lap pool.
County staff outlined with blue ribbon to show how massive the main pool will be inside the old Macy's store. The lights that once shined on clothing, will soon enough light up star athletes.
“Swimming is becoming more popular nationwide,” said NOVA of Virginia Aquatics Executive Director Ann McGee. “It’s now the fourth most popular sport in the country… I think that this is a swimming community between the many swim clubs here and the number of kids who compete, who swim in their summer league programs, and now in schools.”
The project is a private-public partnership between the County, NOVA Swimming and Regency Square.
“I love doing this because I love Henrico,” O’Bannon said. “What it shows is instead of building five pools and raising taxes to pay for those pools, we in Henrico find unique and different ways to accomplish goals that we have."
Regency Square will commit $10 million as part of its redevelopment plan for the property. NOVA Swimming contributing $3 million in addition to Henrico’s part.
“Henrico County’s $1.75 million that will be paid out over five years,” O’Bannon said. “It’s public money, but it’s for public use… where Henrico will get 30 years of a great pool.”
“It just means more public access to this great sport of swimming,” McGee added. “It means more and more kids will learn how to swim. It means people aging will have a place to go to get fitness and healthy activity.”
It could also open up the opportunity for competition, driving Henrico’s sports tourism which had a $47.3 million impact in 2017. County Manager John Vithoulkas said in his December State of the County they are looking at more ways to increase sports opportunities across the area.
The new aquatic center will also be a key part of the mall’s overhaul for future, but County leaders say it’s not just about bringing money in.
“It’s a place for kids to come that’s good clean wholesome fun," O’Bannon said.
This announcement comes after the February Board of Supervisors’ final approval of the 21,000-square-foot Henrico Aquatics Center project off North Laburnum Avenue and Watts Lane.
Officials with Henrico, the YMCA of Greater Richmond and Henrico County Public Schools announced the project in November. Since then, the Board of Supervisors and YMCA have finalized a development agreement and a 20-year lease, which allows use of the county-owned land.
Construction on the Henrico Aquatics Center is expected to begin in March with an anticipated opening in early 2020.
In February, Regency Square mall announced several new merchants at the shopping center including Your CBD Store – Richmond, which opened March 3.
Tuesday’s announcement comes as part of a multi-million-dollar face lift of the mall. It was purchased in 2015 by Thalhimer Realty and The Rebkee Co.
“We want to keep our businesses strong in Henrico and we work on that very much, especially our small businesses that could be in here,” O’Bannon said. “We love all of Regency and we want to keep it here.”
Specific details about when the facility could open were not immediately available. The project still has to go through several phases before construction starts.
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