Nov 1, 2023 - News

YMCA allowed to defer county loan payments

The Wellmark YMCA in downtown includes DSM's only indoor Olympic-size swimming pool. Photo: Jason Clayworth/Axios

The YMCA of Greater Des Moines can now defer payments for the next two years on a $6.5 million loan from Polk County, under a resolution approved by supervisors yesterday.

Why it matters: The Y chapter is trying to make a financial recovery following years of increasing debt.

  • The deferment provides additional time to secure a sale or development agreement for the group's downtown facility, according to the resolution.

Catch up fast: A developer terminated an agreement in late 2021 to turn half of the downtown facility's 146,000 square feet of fitness space into affordable housing.

  • Supervisors approved the 2% loan to the Y in May 2022 to help it secure $2 million in debt forgiveness from another lender.

Zoom in: Supervisor Matt McCoy was the only no vote in 2022, telling Axios last year that he believed the loan is risky for taxpayers.

  • The Y should have instead explored reorganization under bankruptcy, he said at the time.
  • McCoy remained the only no vote in this week's resolution. The 20-year loan has a balance of $6.4 million.

Meanwhile, the downtown facility remains open as Y officials continue exploring plans to redevelop part of the facility.

State of play: The Y also owns a Walnut Creek location in West Des Moines and the South Suburban site near the airport, but it has leased the latter facility to Genesis Health Club since 2020.

  • Genesis is opening a nearly $14 million facility at Southridge mall and will vacate the Y site next year, the Register reports.
  • The Y is exploring a joint venture with other health and wellness groups for the site but no plans are finalized, Y spokesperson Ruth Comer tells Axios.

By the numbers: The YMCA of Greater DSM's expenses exceeded revenue by more than $2 million for the tax year that ended in August 2019, according to its publicly filed documents.

  • The group's two most recent reports — the latest being the tax year ending August 2022 — show positive operating margins.

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