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YMCA Plans to ‘Phase Out’ Operations at Downtown Building

Brent Warren Brent Warren YMCA Plans to ‘Phase Out’ Operations at Downtown BuildingPhoto by Brent Warren.
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The YMCA of Central Ohio is planning for a future that does not include a presence at 40 W. Long St., the historic Downtown building that has served as a center of operations for the organization for nearly 100 years.

“We are in the process of phasing out of the current building, which will take several years,” said spokesperson Tina Badurina.

The first step in that process is finding a home for what the organization calls its membership services – health and wellness offerings like spinning and yoga classes, and access to a wide range of fitness equipment.

Badurina said that the YMCA is currently in negotiations to lease a space “in the heart of Downtown” that will be built out to the organization’s specifications; it will include “modern and state of the art” fitness facilities and space for group classes, but will not have a swimming pool or gymnasium (as the current building does). She added that “we anticipate transitioning membership services by the end of next summer.”

As for the 400 people who currently live in the building, the plan to accommodate them will likely take more time to fully develop.

The current state of the building – and the living conditions for its residents – is the primary factor motivating the move, according to Badurina. The rooms lack private bathrooms or kitchens, and low ceilings and other structural factors would make it impossible to add them, even with an investment of as much as $50 million to completely renovate the building.

The YMCA plans to work with partners to build multiple new buildings – similar to its Franklin Station project in Franklinton – that will provide private apartments and on-site services for the population of adults at risk of homelessness that it serves.

“We are working with community partners in the supportive housing arena to determine next best steps,” Badurina said, stressing that “no resident will be made homeless as a result of this process…we are taking our time to make sure we fulfill our commitment to providing better conditions.”

The new buildings will all be “centrally located and well connected to services, such as bus lines,” she added.

The striking brick building at 40 W. Long St., meanwhile, will likely be sold, although no decisions have been made as to whom it will be sold, or what that buyer might eventually do with it.

 “The Y has operated the building since 1924 and we take seriously our responsibility as owners of a landmark building,” Badurina said, when asked if historic preservation will be taken into consideration as the YMCA looks to sell the building. “We are working with the City of Columbus and preservationist groups to protect the integrity of the building…that will definitely be top of mind as things move forward and a final determination of use for the building is made.”

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