PHILADELPHIA -- Last week, Philadelphians welcomed a $72 million, 130,000-square-foot fitness center thanks to the Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia. The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center included politicians and Salvation Army representatives.

This center is the ninth Salvation Army Kroc Center to open in the United States. Much of the funding for these centers has been provided by Joan Kroc, widow of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc, who gave $1.5 billion to the Salvation Army to build community centers in underserved areas. In order to break ground, local officials have to raise matching funds.

When it opens to the public on Nov. 1, the center is expected to serve 750 to 1,000 people per day through fitness, sports, aquatic, educational and vocational programs, performing arts and horticulture, and much more. The center will create more than 400 jobs and $22 million in economic impact annually, according to the Salvation Army.

The center, on a 12.4-acre former brownfield site, houses an aquatic education center that features a 25-meter-by-25-yard, 10-lane pool. It also has a family recreation pool area, which includes a warm-water pool, a two-lane lap pool, and a 25-meter-by-25-yard, 10-lane pool. That area also features a water park area with a slide and lazy river. The facility’s gymnasium area allows members to play basketball, volleyball and other sports, plus it can house community meetings and meals as well. The facility’s wellness and fitness center employs personal trainers, dieticians and instructors.

Site work and construction began in March 2009, and to date, The Salvation Army of Greater Philadelphia has raised nearly $31 million for the project, more than any other Salvation Army Kroc Center. The Salvation Army is continuing the campaign to endow scholarship opportunities in perpetuity and to ensure that all who seek to use the facility and its programs have the opportunity to do so, according to a release from the Salvation Army.

“There is no one who can enter this majestic facility and not feel that opportunity is theirs,” said Major Timothy Lyle, who, with his wife, Major Willie Mae Lyle, serve as administrators of The Salvation Army Kroc Center and has overseen its construction. “There is no question that thousands of lives will be changed for the better as children and adults imagine possibilities and gain experiences they didn't know existed.”

Representatives of architect MGA Partners and construction manager T.N. Ward Co. presided over a presentation of the keys, and a special presentation by Salvation Army members to the Kroc family. The afternoon concluded with self-guided tours of the facility.

Designed by MGA Partners Architects, in association with PZS Architects and landscape architects Andropogon Associates, the campus is one of the greenest developments undertaken in Philadelphia, according to the Salvation Army. It has advanced mechanical systems, rainwater retention systems and other measures put into place to make the building sustainable and environmentally friendly.