The Alaska Club expands

Officials say 'family friendly' project to be complete at end of March

Posted: Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Construction at the Valley JRC The Alaska Club, intended to make the fitness center more "family friendly," will be complete by the end of March, club officials said.

The 14,600-square-foot expansion will provide members with five tennis courts - one more than before construction began - as well as a gym with basketball and volleyball facilities, said John McConnochie, club manager.

Seventy-eight parking spaces have been added to accommodate the club's growing enrollment, McConnochie said.

"I think it's great that they're adding additional recreational facilities," said Walter Majores, a club member who was headed to a workout Monday afternoon. "Juneau is a very athletically oriented community and a lot of the time because of our weather it's hard to get out and exercise."

The Alaska Club, based in Anchorage, operates 13 clubs across the state. The company bought the Juneau Racquet Club in December 2001 from McConnochie and former Juneau Chamber of Commerce Director Jamie Parsons.

The fitness company worked with Anchorage architect Don Dwiggins to design the remodel.

"It was designed just to make the club a more family-friendly facility," McConnochie said. "Parents can come in with their children and be involved in different activities in the club."

A "kids zone" area, located in a space formerly occupied by a tennis court, will include a rock-climbing wall, television and video game facilities and a foosball table. Kids 6- to 12-years old will be able to hang out in the area under the indirect supervision of the club's front desk employees, McConnochie said.

The service center at the club, where members sign in before working out, will be moved to ground level, McConnochie said. The two businesses that lease space from the club, Chez Sante and Juneau Physical Therapy, will be moved upstairs in the remodel.

The Alaska Club will have spent more than $1 million on the construction project by the time it is finished, said Andrew Eker, president of The Alaska Club.

The number of employees at the club, about 85, will not increase after the expansion, McConnochie said.

Though membership fees at the club may increase in coming years, no hikes will be directly related to the expansion, Eker said.

The addition of a pool to the club's facilities is dependent on several factors, said McConnochie.

"The pool is still being looked at very seriously, but there's a couple of things that need to fall into place for that to happen," he said.

The club will be watching whether its membership numbers increase due to the current expansion and whether the city decides to build a pool in the valley before deciding whether to proceed.

"The valley just can't support two pools," said McConnochie.

David Csepp, a member who planned to use the free weights at the Valley club, said the current expansion of the club won't make much of a difference in his workouts, but the addition of a pool would be welcome.

"One of my favorite ways to cool down after a workout is with 15 minutes or so in the pool," Csepp said. "I'd really like to see a pool."

• Christine Schmid can be reached at christine.schmid@juneauempire.com.



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