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'I'm just happy that it's happening': Construction begins on Arlington active adult center

A building rendering depicts a triangular pavilion juts from a tan facility. The building's right side holds the city of Arlington's logo--the letter "A" superimposed on a star.
Courtesy City of Arlington
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A building rendering shows the future home of Arlington's active adult center. The building's right side holds the city of Arlington's logo.

Construction began Monday on Arlington’s long-awaited recreation center for residents 50 and older, which is projected to open next winter or in early 2025.

The project known as the “active adult center” will include a full-court gym, swimming areas, a walking track, event program space and an outdoor patio. Voters greenlit the city to spend $45 million in bond funding in a 2017 special bond election.

The wait has been longer for residents like Elva Roy, who has advocated for active adult center in the years before the vote.

“I’m not going to say, ‘Finally,’ because that’s kind of a negative comment, but I’m just happy that it’s happening. It’s going to be wonderful for the citizens and the seniors here,” Roy said.

Around 25% of adults 65 and older are considered socially isolated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That puts them at risk for health problems including heart disease, stroke and dementia.

“We know that isolation and loneliness accounts for detrimental health outcomes, and it’s equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day,” Roy said.

The center will be the first of its kind in Arlington. Helen Moise, District 1 council member, says residents 50 and up have been asking for a dedicated space for years.

“Arlington seniors came to us for a long time and said, ‘We need a place we can come together, where we can socialize, where we can engage in activities that promote physical and mental wellness, camaraderie, education.’ With the construction of this new center, we’re able to provide them with all that,” Moise said.

Early projections estimated construction would begin by 2020; however, discussions about moving the center from its planned spot on the west side of town, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, pushed back the date.

Council members also considered restarting the construction contracting process to allow Minority/Women-owned Businesses and Enterprises (MWBE) but decided against further delaying the process.

The city selected Manhattan Construction Group as the project’s construction manager-at-risk, which oversees different aspects of the building process. The company, which set the maximum cost for the project at $55.3 million, agreed to use MWBE firms for at least 30% of the project’s subcontracts. Manhattan and several other businesses cohosted a networking event for the subcontracts with the city’s business diversity office.

In the meantime, the city has asked residents to help name the center through a survey open through Jan. 11, 2023.

Got a tip? Email Kailey Broussard at kbroussard@kera.org. You can follow Kailey on Twitter @KaileyBroussard.

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Kailey Broussard is a reporter for KERA and The Texas Newsroom through Report for America (RFA). Broussard covers the city of Arlington, with a focus on local and county government accountability.