More Building For The Buck

Deerfield Park District residents now can, in a sense, “run with the Bulls.”

A facility — once used as a practice center for the Chicago Bulls basketball team–is now a recreation center with a wealth of amenities and programming.

The Sachs Recreation Center opened in May in the northern Chicago suburb. It offers several recreational elements district officials and residents had long sought, including gymnasium space and additional walking facilities.

The newly renovated center boasts three gyms: a full-sized gym formerly used by the Bulls, plus two, new, smaller, middle school-sized gyms.

Additional features include an indoor pool, three tennis courts, two racquetball courts, a childcare center, a game room, two weight rooms, a 3,000-square-foot exercise and fitness area, a four-lane indoor track, a cafe/food service area, rental space for parties and events, programming space, steam rooms, a sauna and two whirlpools. And pampering is next; in summer, district officials were ironing out details with a vendor to provide spa services, including massages, manicures and pedicures, beginning in the fall.

Gains And Losses

Wheaton, Ill.-based PHN Architects, which specializes in the design of recreational facilities, oversaw the renovation of and addition to the center.

As is frequently the case with renovating existing structures, the project morphed from a relatively straightforward plan to clean the facility, bring it up to code, and add the two smaller gyms to a substantially more complex remodeling project, with unexpected challenges along the way.

But working through the complications led to a more polished facility that serves the district’s short- and long-term needs, said PHN’s Gary Pingel, project manager.

And reaction has been positive. Within three months of opening–and during the time of year when many fitness buffs head outdoors–nearly 700 people had signed up for memberships. “Residents love it,” says Deerfield Park District Director Linda Gryziecki.

Opening the center fulfills two long-held desires of district residents and officials–more gymnasium space and additional places for walkers to hit the trails. The new rec center also provides district residents with a public fitness facility for the first time, with plenty of cardio and weight equipment, and additional pool time for the highly ranked Coho Swim Club.

“For decades we had agreements with the school districts in our area to use their gym facilities for free, in return for grounds maintenance,” says Gryziecki. “Typically we own the land around the schools, and they own the building and footprint. It’s worked wonderfully.”

But in recent years four elementary schools closed along with those gyms. She adds, “We’ve always had a gymnasium in our long-range plan.”

The Long And Short

The path to ownership and the remodeled facility was not necessarily a smooth one.

Besides being the practice home for the Bulls, the former Multiplex also was a health club that had closed several years ago. The facility then was split into two portions, with two separate owners, one of whom approached Deerfield in 2006 with a rental offer.

“We turned that down, but we told the owner we’d be interested in purchasing the center,” Gryziecki says.

Two years later, both owners were willing to sell, and Deerfield bought the building, now more than 25 years old.

At approximately 100,000 square feet, the former Multiplex is larger than what officials had envisioned.

“We weighed the cost and benefits of building a gym, compared to purchasing the Multiplex and renovating it,” says Gryziecki. Deerfield had hoped to build a facility of approximately 33,000 square feet, with two middle school-sized gyms and multi-purpose space. “That would have cost $10.2 million, including site improvements. We spent under $11 million and got so much more,” Gryziecki says.

Page 1 of 2 | Next page

Related posts:

  1. A More Functional Floor Plan
  2. Feeling Minnesota
  3. What’s Hogging All The Energy?
  4. Building With Pavers, Stone, And Brick
  5. A Heart-Warming Program
  • Columns
  • Departments