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YMCA Continues Capital Campaign, Plans For More Growth

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Nov 8, 2017
A rendering of the design for the new Market Street facility. (Image courtesy of the YMCA)
The YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina has entered into the public phase of its capital campaign to raise funds for renovation to its main facility on Market Street, which was badly damaged by a fire in February 2015.

The organization has raised $5 million so far in the capital campaign toward its goal of $7 million to fund the ongoing project at its 2710 Market St. facility, according to Dick Jones, president and CEO of YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina.

The capital campaign total includes a $2 million gift in December from Oaz Nir, the son of longtime YMCA Healthy Living Director Dalia Nir. When it opens, the facility will be renamed the Nir Family YMCA.

The Y received a little more than $2.8 million from insurance proceeds as a result of the fire, Jones said. That leaves about $2 million dollars left to be raised in its next phase of the campaign to fund the $9 million construction and renovation project. The added expense is to account for financing costs, according to Sara Gibbs, spokeswoman for the YMCA.

The “silent phase” of the campaign, which began in early 2016 and wrapped up this summer, has been chaired by Cecil Worsley III, chairman of Port City Java and president and CEO of Springer Eubank Co. Russell Herring, president and CEO of AssistedCare, is chairing the public phase campaign. Both are longtime members of the Y, Jones said.

"We're excited about the opportunities for others in the community to join them in helping us to rebuild this Y. It's going to be a tremendous asset for the community when we open it, unlike anything we have had here before," Jones said.

The nonprofit hopes to reach its goal in mid-2018.

The $9 million project is currently on budget and on schedule, Jones said. The Y broke ground early this summer and by the end of November 2018, the facility could be turned over to the Y, Jones said, adding that he anticipates the facility to open that December after training staff and outfitting the space.

"About every space that there is will be touched in some way shape or form during the demolition, construction and renovation," Jones said of the renovation project.

Currently, the main facility is in the demolition phase (pictured at left), he said.

"Things that have been in place for 50 years, they are now gone," Jones said. "Walls are down. Floors are gone. The design of the new Y has a lot more natural light and larger open spaces ... larger rooms."

The Y is also installing a sprinkler system throughout the building and adding additional parking outside the building.

Since the fire, the nonprofit opened its Express Y in Market Plaza off Kerr Avenue, as well as the gymnasium and pools at its main facility.

Renovations, however, have closed the Y's four-lane pool and will soon close the gymnasium. Modular classrooms have been brought in the meantime for programs that need to have space on the site.

"It will be new," Jones said of the four-lane pool. "It will have a lot of the features that will make it more accessible and usable to membership, whether they are toddlers or senior members of the Y. The four-lane pool as it was constructed in the early '60s was not as functional today as it was back then. And so the new design will be far more functional and appeal to a much broader audience."

Plans are to open the pool in May 2018, he said. The six-lane pool continues to be accessible.

With the capital campaign and renovations ongoing, Jones said the YMCA continues with efforts to expand its reach in the region. The nonprofit opened the Midtown Y at Temple Baptist Activity Center, 709 George Anderson Drive, in March. Plans are also in the works for a facility in Pender County, in the planned Blake Farm community.

The Y is working with a community steering group in Whiteville to develop a YMCA presence in Columbus County. The town of Leland is also working on a project to look at a multi-purpose recreational facility, Jones said.

In November, Leland's town council will consider approval of a contract to complete the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Master Plan, according to Niel Brooks, operation services director for the town of Leland.

Should a contract be awarded, the town could begin a public information process on the master plan in 2018.

“As part of the plan, we’re going to ask the consultants to investigate the feasibility of a multi-purpose facility,” Brooks said. “We have to be very clear that we can determine the need and financial viability of any facility that we pursue.”

Jones said there have been several conversations with Leland town officials about programs for the YMCA.

"We have a lot of members that come from the Leland area over, so we're talking to them about programs and opportunities in the future to help Leland residents stay in Leland and get YMCA services," Jones said. "The community would like to be involved in the programs and services that the YMCA offers and so we want to try to make those as accessible as possible. And as our community grows the YMCA needs to follow suit."

The YMCA has a current base of about 7,000 members and serves another 5,000-6,000 program participants at various locations, he said.

"We're finding tremendous partners in the community. Collaboration works well for many of the nonprofits in town, and we are pleased to be able to work with many others in the community to help serve the needs of our community. We are excited about what the future holds for us," Jones said.

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