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Kansas City plans downtown YMCA, closing 3 others

Published on -3/12/2013, 11:07 AM

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- The YMCA of Greater Kansas City plans to begin fundraising soon for a large, new YMCA in downtown Kansas City and major renovations to two other facilities in the metro region, but it plans to close three other branches, the group's executive director said.

The proposal follows a two-year review of the 17 Kansas City area YMCA facilities by executive director David Byrd, who planned to officially announce the plans Tuesday, The Kansas City Star reported (http://bit.ly/WFvVqM ).

Facilities in eastern Kansas City, Mo., and Atchison, Kan., will undergo extensive renovations, but branches in Independence, Raytown and Kansas City, Kan., will be shuttered. And the operations of the Miami County YMCA in Osawatomie, Kan., will be transferred to the school district, which owns the building.

"We are unwavering in our commitment to strengthening the greater Kansas City community, and we look forward to continuing to be here for decades to come," Byrd told The Star Monday. "We have made some difficult decisions to ensure that we can deliver our mission and also be good stewards of available resources."

Kansas City hasn't had a large downtown YMCA since 1981, although a smaller Y opened in 1989. The new proposal calls for a 100,000-square-foot YMCA, if the fundraising effort succeeds.

The branches that will close have had declining membership, rising operating expenses and a significant amount of deferred maintenance, Byrd said, at a time when several private and public fitness centers have opened in the region.

Although some money has already been pledged for the capital plan, which is expected to cost $60 million to $65 million, fundraising will begin after a "leadership cabinet" of Kansas City area business executives meets. Byrd declined to say which executives are on the cabinet, or how much money has already been donated. He also would not say how much his organization, which has a $43 million annual budget, expects to save by closing the three facilities.

If all goes well, construction would begin on the downtown project by the end of next year and it would open in early 2016. Renovations and expansion of the Kansas City and Atchison facilities would depend on separate fundraising efforts for those projects.

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