Oberlin College officials hope an approximately $15 million expansion of Phillips Gym works out.
A 15,315-square foot health and wellness center is being proposed for the 77,574-square-foot gym at 200 Woodland St. Planning commission members approved the site plan for the addition Aug. 24.
Expansion includes a fitness center, meeting room, multipurpose room, spinning room, and two offices, according to planning and development department documents. The plan calls for adding 32 parking spaces on site and an additional 19 about 400 feet away that would be shared with students.
Two vacant houses owned by the college would be razed to make room for the expansion. The pool in the gym will also be renovated.
The gym, officially known as the Jesse Phillips Physical Education Center, is the college’s athletic complex. It includes free weights, treadmills, elliptical trainers, cycling and rowing machines, three basketball and volleyball courts, six racquetball courts, nine squash courts, two saunas, a training room, and coaches’ offices for the college’s 21 varsity teams.
College architect Steve Varelmann told commission members the college cancelled a plan expand the gym last year because it was too expensive. He said more than eight months were spent redesigning the project.
“The overall program remains the same,” Varelmann said. “We’ve just modified the way the exterior appearance is and, in doing that, we were able to save some significant money.”
Varelmann said he hopes the project leads to greater gym use by community members.
However, resident Bruce Laczko, who said he regularly uses the gym, told commission members he was disappointed the addition didn’t include improvements to the men’s locker room.
Laczko said the locker room has narrow benches and poor drainage. He said the current layout is awkward with not enough machines by windows.
“What’s presented here doesn’t seem to me to reflect usage patterns,” he said. “It seems to reflect a hope of enormous increase in usage.”
Varelmann didn’t respond to Laczko’s criticism. However, he said concerns raised by Oberlin officials, such as the fire department requesting two fire hydrants be installed by the addition, will be addressed.
Construction could begin as early as November. The addition is scheduled to open in Fall 2018.
Contact Evan Goodenow at 440-775-1611 or @GoodenowNews on Twitter.
Evan Goodenow | Oberlin News-Tribune The Phillips Gym at 200 Woodland St. is expected to get a 15,315-square-foot addition, opening in Fall 2018.