The downtown Olympia YMCA, which has occupied a building on Franklin Street for 108 years, is set to move.
The new destination is in the building occupied by 5th Avenue Fitness on Plum Street. The existing fitness business will remain open for another month, then the building will be closed down for about six months to undergo $550,000 in renovations before emerging as the Plum Street YMCA in spring 2018.
The South Sound YMCA will acquire the 5th Avenue Fitness membership, said YMCA President and Chief Executive Kyle Cronk.
Cronk and board chairman Jon Jones announced the plans late Tuesday. Both said the move keeps the organization downtown and maintains its commitment to the area.
Cronk said the decision to move was not taken lightly. But he said the organization was faced with about $1 million in deferred maintenance costs for its existing downtown building, and those improvements wouldn’t necessarily have enhanced the user experience, he said.
The existing building, which measures 33,000 square feet, will be put up for sale, Cronk said.
“It’s a great opportunity for some savvy investor to do an urban revitalization project,” he said.
A listing price for the existing Y property wasn’t immediately known, Cronk said. The South Sound YMCA will know more about a sales price after it studies the market, he said.
South Sound YMCA serves all of Thurston County, plus most of Mason County and north Lewis County. It has two main locations — downtown and the Briggs branch on Yelm Highway — and is exploring creating a third YMCA in Shelton.
The downtown and Briggs’ YMCAs have about 8,500 members, while 5th Avenue Fitness has about 2,000, Cronk said.
Despite the downtown Y’s 33,000 square feet, Cronk said it was using only about 16,000 square feet — which is the same size as 5th Avenue Fitness. The new location also has parking — 63 spaces — while the existing YMCA branch has no parking.
Cronk acknowledged the new location won’t have a swimming pool, nor a basketball court or indoor track. The indoor track and basketball court are rarely used at the existing location, he said. For those who like to swim, they can still swim at the Briggs YMCA, and Cronk said there is some covered parking at the rear of 5th Avenue Fitness that might provide space for a new pool at some point.
Meanwhile, Chick Barcellona, the longtime owner of 5th Avenue Fitness, was looking to retire. He just turned 74, Barcellona said Tuesday, but he didn’t want to close the club and leave his members adrift. Barcellona said he approached the YMCA.
“The beauty of this, from a member’s standpoint, is that it’s happening right here, where the business has always been, and it will be brand new,” he said.
Barcellona opened the business as a Gold’s Gym 23 years ago. One challenge he had was that a Gold’s Gym membership didn’t provide access to other Gold’s Gym locations. Starting next year, a YMCA membership will get members into any YMCA in the country, Cronk said.
Although he’s set to retire, Barcellona said he wants to be an “ambassador” for the YMCA to make the transition as smooth as possible for his members.
“Whatever they need me to do,” he said. “I’ll be an employee without a paycheck.”