The University of Washington Tacoma is partnering with the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties to build a $20 million fitness center on its campus.

Bob Ecklund, president and CEO of the YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties, says that the partnership is a good fit for two organizations with a long history in the community.

“They were looking for a partner to help serve the needs of students and connect with the surrounding community,” Ecklund says. “There were a lot of things we had in common.”

The facility, known as the University Y, will be between 55,000 and 70,000 square feet and will include cardio and weight rooms, group exercise rooms, locker rooms, and a gymnasium. The building also will house a new student union.

“This collaboration will create a tremendous resource for both our students and the Y with a building and set of programs that jointly provide so much more than either institution could offer on its own,” UW Tacoma Chancellor Debra Friedman said in a news release.

The Y will be responsible for staffing and providing equipment for the fitness center, but the university will own the building.

The facility will be open to students, faculty and staff as well as members of seven other local Ys. Students and their families also will have access to those locations, which Ecklund says is particularly beneficial since many UW Tacoma students work and have children.

“We think it will be a model that other communities will really want to emulate,” Ecklund says.

Both the UW Tacoma and YMCA have approved a letter of understanding regarding the partnership, and the project is moving forward. Construction is set to begin within 12 months, Ecklund says.