Sunday, December 10, 2023

Virginia Beach’s Kempsville Recreation Center to open this year

Kempsville Recreation Center
A view of the Kempsville Recreation Center’s construction site. (Justin Belichis)

Power tools whirring and the sound of distant chatter among construction workers fill the air during the day on Monmouth Lane, where the new Kempsville Recreation Center is being built. Two years after closing its doors in Virginia Beach, it is close to completion.

The two-story, 87,116 square-foot facility will feature a double gymnasium, an indoor track, an indoor pool, a water-play area, several multi-purpose rooms, an improved parking lot and more. At this point, Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation project manager Rob MacPherson said it is on track to open this spring.

“Programming will be similar to what we do at the other centers,” Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation public relations manager Julie Braley said. “[There will be] swim lessons and leagues, group fitness classes, ‘forever young’ senior programs, therapeutic recreation programs, early childhood programs, sports, arts and crafts, family activities, as well as birthday parties and room rentals.”

Virginia Beach recreation center annual memberships can range from $98 for adult residents to $374 for non-residents.

A playground on the Kempsville Recreation Center's grounds. (Justin Belichis)
A playground on the Kempsville Recreation Center’s grounds. (Justin Belichis)

The latest construction update on the facility said all concrete work, with the exception of the indoor track, is complete.

Almost 40 years after the original facility opened, the building was demolished in 2015 to make way for the new facility. A 2009 facility assessment conducted by the city ranked the overall condition of the building as “poor,” according to the project’s website page.

Because of the assessment, the center would need to improve plumbing, mechanical and electric systems. Even the pool and the infrastructure associated with it would need to be renovated. This led to city staff and HBA Architecture Interior Design’s recommendation to demolish the facility.

In 2012, city council approved a $32 million investment for the project’s design, construction, contingencies, furniture and equipment, according to its website page. MacPherson said the facility’s design is based on current trends in architecture.

“Fitting into the existing site, since it’s on the same site as the previous building, had some influence of the shape of the building,” MacPherson said. “One of the primary design influences was trying to centralize the circulation so once you come in the front door, you can go in any direction to get to any part of the building.”

Historically, MacPherson said the recreation center’s programming included a theater program that put on plays, table tennis, basketball, summer camps, a child-development program and an annual craft fair called “Santa’s stocking.”

“It was the first rec center that the city built back in 1977, and for a number of years it was the only one,” MacPherson said regarding the recreation center. “Kempsville, at the time, was the most populated area of the city.”

To see a time-lapse video of the facility’s construction, click here.

The Kempsville Recreation Center's interior design plans. (Photo courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)
The Kempsville Recreation Center’s interior design plans. (Photo courtesy of City of Virginia Beach)

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