Downtown KCK YMCA closed

The downtown Kansas City, Kansas, YMCA building at 8th and Armstrong has closed. (File photo by Mary Rupert)

The Downtown Kansas City, Kansas, YMCA building at 8th and Armstrong Avenue was closed Friday, according to YMCA and Unified Government officials.

A news release from the UG stated that the downtown YMCA was closed for safety reasons after an inspection by structural engineers determined the aging building was no longer safe.

YMCA spokeswoman Paula Oxler said that the YMCA building at 8th and Armstrong had a variety of issues. It was a 105-year-old building that over the years has deteriorated, she said.

Oxler said this will be a permanent closing for the Kansas City, Kansas, YMCA building at 8th and Armstrong.

Additionally, the building was opened with two floors of dormitories, and those dormitories closed in 2000, Oxler said.

“The building in general has been out of date for what we’ve been using it for,” Oxler said. “Based on the structural engineering report, it’s not safe, and it was recommended to exit the entire building.”

Oxler said the YMCA is still committed to working with the UG on building a new downtown Kansas City, Kansas, YMCA. A combined grocery store-YMCA project, the Downtown Healthy Campus, was put on hold recently in order to focus more efforts on finding a grocery store operator.

At the Feb. 9 UG meeting, the UG decided to put the Healthy Campus project design process on “pause” while it searches for a grocery store operator, which it did not yet have. (See http://wyandottedaily.com/ug-to-make-a-renewed-effort-to-lock-in-a-grocery-store-for-downtown-kck/)

The UG is to come back within 90 days with a progress report on finding a grocer. It was not a vote to end the Healthy Campus project, however. At that meeting, YMCA officials repeated their desire to build a new downtown Kansas City, Kansas, YMCA and to work together on a combined YMCA and grocery store development.

At the recent UG meeting, YMCA patrons including Judge Kate Lynch who used the downtown YMCA appeared in support of the Healthy Campus project.

Oxler said the users of the downtown KCK YMCA will be able to use other YMCA facilities in the metropolitan area, and many have already been doing so. There are 753 members of the downtown KCK YMCA. In Wyandotte County, the YMCA also has facilities at 8601 Parallel Parkway and in Bonner Springs. In addition, the YMCA has facilities in North Kansas City, on Quality Hill in Kansas City, Missouri, and in Platte County.

The YMCA will try to find spaces in downtown KCK to offer some programs while it continues to work toward building a new facility, according to the YMCA statement. In addition, there will be an effort to place those persons who worked at the downtown YMCA at other YMCAs.

The UG spokesman who sent out a news release on the YMCA closing did not return a phone call from the Wyandotte Daily Friday afternoon for confirmation and further comment.

The YMCA statement on the facility closing:

The 8th Street Family YMCA has served downtown Kansas City, Kansas, for 105 years. On a recent routine walk through of the building, we discovered signs of deterioration. We consulted with a structural engineer. Based on the structural engineer’s report, we must exit the entire building structure. Out of concern for the safety of our associates, members and the community, we have closed the facility.

We are sad to close this facility that has served our community for so long, but we must do so for the safety of our members, associates and everyone we serve. The 8th Street Y is so much more than just a building. It’s a community of Y supporters, volunteers and associates. We intend to find spaces in downtown KCK to offer some programs while we continue to work toward building a new Y.

The 8th Street Family YMCA had 753 memberships, 3 full-time associates and 30 part-time associates.

Memberships have always included access to all YMCA of Greater Kansas City locations, and members may begin using any of our Ys immediately.

Nearby locations include:
• Providence YMCA/Ball Family Center, 8601 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, KS
• North Kansas City YMCA, 1999 Iron Street, North Kansas City, MO, 64116
• Quality Hill YMCA, 1051 Washington, Kansas City, MO 64105
• Platte County Community Center South, 8875 Clark Avenue, Parkville, MO 64152
We are working to place affected associates in other roles within the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.

We were able to prolong the life of the 8th Street Family YMCA building longer than expected, thanks to the support of our partner, the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas.

We remain committed to continuing to work with the UG to build a new Y as part of a Healthy Living Campus in downtown Kansas City, Kan., and will share progress updates as they are available.

The UG’s news release on the downtown YMCA closing:

The YMCA facility in downtown KCK has been closed for safety reasons. An inspection by structural engineers determined the aging building is no longer safe for patrons according to YMCA President David Byrd.

“We commend YMCA leadership for making the safety of their members their top priority,” said Mayor David Alvey. “At the same we appreciate how difficult this decision was for them, given their passion to continue serving their members with quality facilities and programming.”

The YMCA announced in 2013 that it would close the downtown KCK branch due to declining membership and the deteriorating condition of the building. However, with temporary financial support from the Unified Government and increased efforts to increase membership, the facility remained open.

YMCA President David Byrd has led an effort to raise funds from the civic community for a new, state-of-the-art YMCA for downtown KCK.

“The Unified Government continues to collaborate with the efforts of the YMCA to bring such a facility to our downtown neighborhoods,” Mayor Alvey said.

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