New $7.1 million Ankeny senior center to start construction this year

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Ankeny and Polk County are moving forward with their plan to build a new Ankeny Community Senior Center this year, beginning construction this summer.

The $7.1 million project is expected to be completed in fall 2021, city officials said. Polk County is contributing $3.5 million toward the project through a long-term lease agreement, while the city will cover the remaining cost in addition to building, owning and maintaining the facility.

“It’s the first facility of its kind in Polk County and definitely in Ankeny,” City Manager David Jones said. “It will be primarily focused on seniors, but a community center all of our residents can enjoy.”

The 30,300-square-foot, two-story facility will be at 250 N.W. Ash Drive, across the street from Ankeny Fire Department headquarters and northwest of the intersection of West First Street and Northwest Ash Drive. New renderings from Shive-Hattery Architecture and Engineering, which was hired in 2019 to design the center, show a dining room, warming kitchen, exam and health room, game and craft rooms, and a multi-purpose gymnasium.

Renderings of a dining area in the future Ankeny Senior Center. Construction is planned to finish by 2021. (Photo: Provided by the City of Ankeny)

Ankeny City Council is expected to finalize the construction contract Monday, and construction will begin later in July.

The new senior center is a part of a 50-year agreement between the city and county, approved last year. Polk County will use the first floor of the building for senior citizen services, including providing lunches, health screenings and recreational activities between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.

The county currently provides senior services currently at the Neveln Center at 406 S.W. School St., which is operated by the Ankeny Community School District.

Having a larger space for seniors has been a priority for the city, said Jones.

“It’s a great example of city-county collaboration, where neither had resources to do on it’ own, but could collaborate to do something great for our senior residents,” he said.

It’s not only senior residents benefiting: the second floor of the new building will have a walking track and multiple recreational spaces, including a bocce ball court and golf simulator games. The gymnasium also will have accommodate three courts for pickleball, which is popular with both senior and younger residents, Jones said.

Planned multi-purpose gymnasium in Ankeny Senior Center. Construction is planned to finish by 2021. (Photo: Provided by the City of Ankeny)

Additionally, first-floor facilities will be available for lease for residents and groups through the city parks and recreation department during evenings and weekends, when the county is not using them.

The facility may open as soon as November 2021 — with changes subject to health and safety precautions around issues like the coronavirus pandemic.

“Subject to the environment being suitable for the county in regards to COVID-19, we expect to be physically in the building in 2021,” Jones said. “But we have not had to make any specific changes in construction with regard to the virus so far.”

Robin Opsahl covers the eastern Des Moines metro for the Register. Reach them at ropsahl@registermedia.com or 515-284-8051. Support reporters who follow your community by becoming a subscriber. Sign up at DesMoinesRegister.com/Deal.

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