By   –  Reporter, Louisville Business First

The Trager Family Jewish Community Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday on its long-awaited new facility near Bowman Field.

Tom Wissinger, vice president and chief operating officer of the Jewish Community of Louisville, said the new $43 million facility will replace the former structure. The 107,000-square-foot center is located behind the previous building at 3600 Dutchman’s Lane. It was named for the well-known Trager family, longtime members of the JCC, including Steve Trager, CEO of Republic Bancorp Inc.

“Today, we are honored to share with the entire Louisville community a place where everyone can feel welcome and invited,” Sara Klein Wagner, president and CEO of the Trager Family JCC and JCL, said at the ceremony. “The Trager Family Jewish Community Center is a brand new, modern facility designed to serve people of all ages with a breadth and depth of interests. From health and fitness to youth and family experiences to new, indoor aquatics facilities, there is something for everyone.”

The new center features different wings to meet childcare, fitness and artistic needs. The Roth Family Education Center is located on the first floor, and it houses rooms for different childcare programs. With its own designated entrance, the center offers programs for early learning, after-school care and Hebrew education. It has indoor and outdoor classrooms, and all indoor classrooms have en suite restrooms.

Members enter the new facility through the Weisberg Family Lobby. Wissinger said it acts not only as the point of entry but has spaces for activities like story times and a live music venue. The PJ Library is located off the side of the lobby where children 8 years or younger receive free books.

“We want to bring activities out from behind closed doors and bring them into the heart of the JCC as soon as you come in here,” Wissinger said.

The Shapiro Foundation Auditorium also stems off from the lobby. The JCC’s cultural arts programs and Center Stage theater program will operate out of the auditorium.

The new fitness center takes up 37,000 square feet in the new facility. JCC offers over 75 weekly group fitness classes, over 50 cardio machines and a new performance room. Two basketball courts, one half- and one full-sized, are available to members. The full-sized court can be separated into a pickleball court as well. A third full-sized court is located outside the facility.

It also features a year-round, indoor aquatics center, which Wissinger said was the biggest upgrade from the former building. It is one body of water but two pools: one six lane, 25-yard competition lap pool and one recreational pool. The recreational pool has a double decker slide, a vortex pool, a hot tub, and a splash pad that acts as an ADA entrance into the pool.

 This new center is a beacon for all of what is good and productive,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at the ribbon cutting. “Today we are here together to celebrate the fact that you are creating better lives for the citizens of Louisville and the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

“Everything that is taken down is going to turn green,” Wissinger said. “So, we really want to keep the 31 acres that we have here undeveloped in hopes we can potentially do something with it, but we have no plans right now.”

Louisville’s JCC is one of the oldest in the country, starting as the Young Men’s Hebrew Association in 1890. It has about 5,000 members, and Wissinger said membership is still recovering from the pandemic. The previous building has been standing since the 1950s. An empty lot next to the new building will be used for future development, but he could not reveal the plans yet. He did say it could involve a camp program.

“We are always looking for the next phase already because we know this building is great, but we want to service the community in additional ways,” Wissinger said.

The center will officially be open to the public in the spring. The project was funded by over 500 donors, including individuals, corporations and foundations, said Ralph Green, chairman of JCL. The architects of the project were GBBN. Construction was completed by local firm Calhoun Construction Services Inc.

“Our architects from GBBN heard every word you said when you told us what you wanted in the next JCC,” Sara Klein Wagner, president and CEO of JCL, told the audience at the ribbon cutting. “They built within the building a heart, a mind, a soul and a body.”