Jan 6, 2022 - Business

Des Moines' YMCA affordable housing deal falls through

A photo of the downtown Des Moines YMCA.

Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

A Chicago-based developer's agreement to purchase the YMCA property in downtown Des Moines has been terminated, Leisha Barcus, CEO of the Y's Greater Des Moines branch, told Axios yesterday.

Why it matters: The Wellmark YMCA is one of the biggest fitness centers in the metro and — while it remains open — its future ownership is uncertain.

State of play: Celadon Partners had been in talks with the YMCA to purchase the building at 501 Grand Ave. and turn about half of its 146,000 square feet of fitness space into 70 affordable housing units.

  • Under the plan announced last year, the YMCA would have leased a smaller space in the building.

Of note: Barcus declined to say why the agreement fell through and Celadon Partners did not return a request from Axios seeking comment Wednesday.

  • The Des Moines proposal was still listed on its website Wednesday but the link to the project was not functional.

Between the lines: Pandemic-related shutdowns in 2020 led to the loss of more than $6 million in revenue and 6,000 members across six Des Moines YMCA branches.

The big picture: Thousands of gyms across the globe have permanently shuttered during the pandemic and the highly transmissible Omicron variant is creating even more hardships for fitness centers, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.

What's next: The downtown facility is back on the market, Barcus said.


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