On Saturday, March 25, 2023, residents of the Packing District will gather on the streets to celebrate their heritage and community with a grand opening block party commemorating the newly constructed Leonard and Marjorie Williams Family YMCA. The Family Center, designed by RLF in collaboration with the YMCA of Central Florida and the Dr. Phillips Foundation, is one of the first completed developments in the overall master plan preserving the area’s rich history and legacy.
Located in a prominent area of the Packing District, the Leonard and Marjorie Williams Family YMCA is a 32,000-square-foot facility that reflects the history of the Packing District in its design. The exterior aesthetic combines the industrial brick reminiscent of the original brick buildings built by Dr. Phillips, combined with modern open space, materials, and textures. Following the overall master plan, the building serves as a gateway to the park and bike/running paths that connect to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Programming reflects the vision of the district, prioritizing wellness, youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility while creating a space for community connections. Interior spaces integrate with the outdoors highlighted by an open two-story atrium, expansive windows for daylighting, and welcoming graphics throughout. Kids’ spaces are emphasized by bright colors and interactive fitness activities. Other amenities include a large fitness room, a gymnasium, group exercise studios, locker rooms, a child development center, administrative offices, a conference room, a café, retail, and a multi-use outdoor terrace overlooking a splash pad and lap pool.
A modern suburb in College Park, Florida, the Packing District stretches back almost 100 years with the vision of one man – Dr. Phillips. As one of the original citrus producers of the region, Dr. Phillips created an economic model for the region, building a business that included multiple packing houses and shipping hubs within the area now referred to as The Packing District. Dr. Phillips believed in enriching the community and as his business grew, he used his profits to give back with the fruits of his labor. The family legacy has lived on with the Dr. P. Phillips Foundation and Dr. Phillips Charities whose sole purpose is to carry out the philanthropic passion of the man who believed in being a steward of his community. Their motto still stands today – “to help others help themselves.”
But Dr. Phillips is not the only hero in this story. Noted as “the small-town boy with a huge heart,” Leonard Williams, the donor for the new state-of-the-art community center, has helped to carry on the vision of Dr. Phillips by giving his time and money to make a difference in the lives of many people. Born to a family with modest means, Leonard spent nearly every day at the nearby YMCA and learned the value of hard work and community very early. Leonard grew through the ranks of the snack food industry and in 2010 he and his wife Marjorie formed the Marjorie and Leonard Williams Family Foundation, which has since supported many Y’s in Central Florida, as well as other charitable and non-profit organizations. Dr. Phillips would be proud.
As part of the redevelopment and revitalization of The Packing District supported by Dr. Phillips Charities, the new facility will provide the latest in healthy living equipment, classes, programs, and services for individuals and families in College Park and the surrounding communities.
Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Phillips and Leonard Williams, this community has something to celebrate!