Sep 9, 2021 - News

Update: YMCA Charlotte aims to maintain a NoDa presence amid Johnston Y redevelopment

Johnston YMCA

Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

YMCA of Greater Charlotte wants to maintain a presence on the Johnston Y site in NoDa even as the organization is  “formally exploring redevelopment on the site.”

What’s happening: Over the last 10-15 years, the local YMCA has engaged with the community to determine the best use for the 5.8 acres the Johnston Y occupies, YMCA spokesperson Heather Briganti told Axios.

“Our current building, built in 1951, does not serve current market expectations for flow and function, and has a growing list of deferred maintenance needs,” Briganti told us back in June.

Driving the news: The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is working with broker partner CBRE and has issued a request for proposals to developers. They’re looking for ideas that’d propose a mixture of uses for the site on North Davidson.

  • The goal is to create an “enduring neighborhood hub” that builds on the Y’s legacy and ensures accessibility for all in the community, the organization said in a statement to Axios Wednesday.
  • “The YMCA specifically requests to maintain a presence on the site, with a focus on health & wellness and youth development programming,” the statement read.

Timing: The Y will evaluate proposals this fall and expects to announce a development partner in early 2022. Once they identify a developer, the organization will release more details on the site plan and timeline. YMCA operates will continue throughout the process.

“We believe the growth of this community only reinforces the need for the Y to maintain a presence here. The committee has specifically requested a Y presence on the current site. Our sincere hope is to build on the legacy of the Johnston Y in the NoDa community,” Briganti told Axios.

Zoom out: NoDa, an old mill village turned arts district, has been changing rapidly in recent years, thanks in large part to the development of the Blue Line light rail.

  • Hundreds of high-end apartments are either planned or under construction in the area. There’s a grocery store planned for 36th Street, too.
  • Luxury townhomes recently went up next to the Johnston Y site. Property values in the area are soaring.

Additionally, The pandemic has crushed the local Y, one of the largest gym networks in the region. As of January, more than half of Y members had either canceled or frozen their memberships, the nonprofit said at the time. That equalled about $40 million in lost revenue.

  • Since reopening, the Johnston Y has kept limited hours.
  • YMCA Charlotte laid off staff across its networks as a way to trim costs.
  • In April, the organization announced a “transformational” gift of $18 million from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. Most of those funds will go toward social justice initiatives.

My thought bubble: I’ve spent many early mornings at the Johnston Y, which is an institution in NoDa. With a daycare, group sports, camps and other community events, the Johnston Y is more of a community hub and gathering place. Now that life is starting to return to normal, we need more gathering places like the Johnston Y.

Editor’s note: We first published this story on June 2 and updated it on Sept. 8.


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