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URBANDALE --- A $20 million YMCA planned for downtown Davenport will get a $500,000 boost from the state’s economic development board.

The grant was approved Wednesday by the Iowa Economic Development Authority’s Enhance Iowa Board, and is contingent upon a commitment letter from the bank financing the project.

“This project unlocks like five different growth patterns for the community that without this doesn’t happen,” said Kyle Carter, a state board member and executive director of the Downtown Davenport Partnership.

Carter abstained from voting on the state grant because of his local ties.

“I think I can at least vouch for the fiscal responsibility that the Y has shown and the power of the project being a catalyst for a lot of other stuff that we hope to see come after it,” he said.

The new YMCA will be 70,000 square feet with fitness space, a pool for recreational and lap swimming, a full-size gymnasium, space for children’s activities, meeting rooms and other amenities, officials say.

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Brad Martell, CEO of the Scott County YMCA, gave a presentation to and fielded questions from the Enhance Iowa Board during its regular meeting Wednesday at the Urbandale Public Library.

Martell told board members he expects the new YMCA could help double scholarship memberships while serving “a key role” in downtown Davenport.

Martell said it's hoped the project will break ground in September or October and that construction will last 14 months, pending favorable winter weather.

State board members expressed their support for the project; the only concern was a desire for stronger commitment language from US Bank. The board opted to give contingent approval for the grant pending a commitment letter from US Bank by Oct. 1.

“I just feel very passionately that we need to do our due diligence,” board member Emily Damman said, adding the $500,000 grant is bigger than most the board typically awards. “That’s a huge chunk of our funds.”

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