At last, Davis Diamonds Gymnastics has landed a new home.
With a hefty waiting list to enroll in its programs and burgeoning boys and girls teams that are shackled by the insufficient size and awkward dimensions of the gym, the gymnastics company has scoured Davis over the past few years in search of a new facility.
If plans stay on track, despite years of back-and-forth with banks and land owners, Davis Diamonds will build a brand-new facility in South Davis, at 2750 Cowell Blvd., just east of Playfields Park, and move in by early 2014.
“This is just a fantastic location,” said James Major, who co-owns Davis Diamonds with his wife Hilde Aune.
The company, which will celebrate its 11th anniversary in September, has operated from its location at 2795 Second St. since it first opened. Between 500 and 700 athletes work out in the gym every week, depending on the season.
Major and Aune say they could double that enrollment in the new building.
The new gym, a jump up in space from about 9,500 square feet to 14,000, could mean the addition of more programs like trampoline classes and fitness and recreation programs, the couple say.
Expansion also would allow Davis Diamonds to hire more full-time staff and coaches, build actual offices and, of course, install state-of-the-art equipment with in-ground foam pits and trampolines.
“It’s a complete game-changer,” Major said, adding that the facility also could host gymnastics meets in the future.
But while the company finally appears poised to leap to its new location, it’s been a long road getting here.
Early last year, after Major and Aune found they could renovate an old Ford dealership on Chiles Road in South Davis into a building that would meet their needs, the City Council approved a conditional use permit that would have allowed it.
The 3-2 decision by the council drew a bit of controversy, as the city heavily relies on automobile sales for tax revenue. Allowing Davis Diamonds to move into the dealership would have sacrificed a piece of that base.
But after the OK from the council, the dealership’s tenant chose at the last moment to exercise its option to rent the facility for five more years, stripping Davis Diamonds of its new home.
Back on the hunt, working alongside city staff, Davis Diamonds later focused on the property on Cowell Boulevard.
The new potential site features connectivity to greenbelts for kids to safely bike to the gym, Aune said. It is near Montgomery Elementary School, 1441 Danbury St., and sits off Interstate 80 with abundant exposure to the busy freeway.
“It will be a lot safer place to get to,” Aune added. “Second Street is really not made for biking.”
But there were some obstacles to overcome before the gymnastics company could break ground.
First, the city needed to approve a split of the parcel and a change in zoning to commercial recreation. Both planning changes were approved earlier this year.
Next, Davis Diamonds needed to arrange for the financing necessary to build the new gym. That was easier said than done.
But even after several financing deals fell through, including one instance where a bank estimated the cost of construction by $400,000 less than Major and Aune were told it would cost, the gymnastics company persevered.
With the help of 12 investors made up of mostly parents of kids who either have graduated from the program or are currently enrolled, the company finally signed loan papers last week for the financing.
“The community really made this gym possible,” Major said. “We’ve grown to be a very big part of this community. The kids know that this is a safe haven for them.”
When asked whether leaving the gym on Second Street after 11 years would be a bittersweet moment, Major and Aune said that, while the property owner has been an accommodating landlord, they are thrilled to be moving on.
— Reach Tom Sakash at email@example.com or 530-747-8057. Follow him on Twitter at @TomSakash