Facility Profile - October 2010
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Recreation Center

Challenges Met
Sachs Recreation Center in Deerfield, Ill.

By Beth Bales

Besides the history within the walls, there are also future opportunities galore.

The facility once used as a practice center for the championship Chicago Bulls basketball team is now the Deerfield Park District's Sachs Recreation Center, offering a score of new amenities and programming for residents.

The renovated center opened in May 2009 in the northern Chicago suburb. District residents now have the additional gymnasium space and walking facilities, plus a fitness center, all of which had long been desired.

Besides the full-size gym formerly used by the Bulls, Deerfield built two new, smaller, middle-school-sized gyms. The updated facility also includes an indoor pool, indoor tennis and racquetball courts, childcare center, game room, 4,575-square-foot fitness area, four-lane indoor track, cafe, rental space for private parties, programming space, steam rooms, sauna and whirlpools.

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

The district has long wanted additional gymnasium space, plus a fitness center and more opportunities for walkers. The new center provides all those amenities, as well as additional pool time for its highly ranked swim team.

The center has been a hit, with more than 1,100 members as of January. "We were thinking perhaps 1,000 members for the first year," said Deerfield Park District Director Linda Gryziecki. "We've passed that, in only eight months.

"Plus, we've had a good response to our programming, and a good response for private rentals. We're very happy."

The path to ownership and the remodeled facility was not always smooth. But working through the complications led to a much more polished facility that serves the district's short- and long-term needs, said PHN's Gary Pingel, project manager.

At approximately 100,000 square feet, the former Multiplex is larger than what officials had planned, Gryziecki said. But when the chance to buy the property—dealing with two owners and a building by then more than 25 years old—Deerfield seized the opportunity to provide additional recreational facilities at a reasonable cost.

Before the property became available, Deerfield had envisioned building a facility of approximately 33,000 square feet, with two middle-school-size gyms and multipurpose space. The estimated cost was roughly $10.2 million, including site improvements. "We spent approximately $11 million and got so much more," Gryziecki said.