Naperville Park District adding new group fitness room at Fort Hill

  • The Fort Hill Activity Center opened in August 2016 in Naperville and now needs to be expanded to accommodate a larger studio for group fitness classes.

      The Fort Hill Activity Center opened in August 2016 in Naperville and now needs to be expanded to accommodate a larger studio for group fitness classes. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer August 2016

 
 
Updated 9/20/2018 4:08 PM

It was a surprise Naperville Park District leaders could handle when they determined group fitness classes at Fort Hill Activity Center are so popular, they're overflowing.

The $24 million facility, which opened in August 2016, was built with some second-floor space undeveloped on purpose, leaving it there as a potential expansion area should more room be needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Two years after opening, the space above the child care room and a multipurpose room is needed as one large studio for group workouts such as Zumba, yoga and spinning, said Brad Wilson, director of recreation.

"While we have large studios on the upper level," Wilson said, "they can't meet the demands that we're seeing."

The park district averages 3,800 participants in group fitness classes at Fort Hill each month, and participants can choose from a list of more than 50 classes each week. The classes take place in three studios in the building, two larger ones with wooden floors and one smaller space.

Wilson said seven classes, such as the popular Zumba offering that often attracts more than 90 people, had to be moved from the studios designed to hold them. These classes now meet in other spaces not designed with group fitness in mind, such as the gymnasium or a first-floor multipurpose room that usually hosts meetings. Seven other classes are at or near capacity and soon could need a larger space if anyone else starts showing up.

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That's why the park district is working with Williams Architects, the same firm that designed the building, to add a 4,000-square-foot studio to host these most popular group workout options.

"We knew that the facility might need to expand in the future," Wilson said. "With this expansion, we're looking to continue to meet the needs of the residents and those who are at the facility using our different services."

The park board so far has approved a $179,213 architecture and engineering contract with Williams to plan and design the expansion project. The entire project, including construction, is expected to cost $2.1 million.

The architecture and engineering contract was approved by a 6-1 vote, with Commissioner Bill Eagan voting against it because he said he objected to the fact some previous committee meetings, in which the need for expansion was discussed, were hosted during the day and not video recorded, making the conversations not very transparent to the public.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I can't support a worthy project for the timing of meetings," Eagan said.

Commissioner Marie Todd said the project also was discussed during full park board meetings in July and August, which were recorded into videos posted to the park district's website.

With the first contract approved, architects, engineers and other consultants from Williams will complete designs, draw up construction documents, apply for permits and help the park district seek bids for the work. The firm also will provide oversight during construction.

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