YMCA may open branch in city

May 14, 2008


YMCA could be headed to Lawrence

The YMCA is looking to bring its Christian message of health to Lawrence. Enlarge video


KU and the YMCA

Dr. James Naismith, Kansas University's first basketball coach, is credited with inventing the game of basket ball (that's right, two words) in 1891. And although he ended up as KU's only coach to end his tenure with a losing record, he got the better of the YMCA.

As KU coach, Naismith went 21-16 against a variety of YMCA teams, including chapters from Lawrence, Topeka, Ottawa, Olathe and Newton; Omaha, Neb.; Des Moines and Muscatine in Iowa; and Chicago.

It didn't start well. The Jayhawks launched their storied basketball heritage with a fizzle, in 1899, with a 16-5 loss to the Kansas City YMCA in Kansas City, Mo., the first of three wins the YMCA chapter would record against KU.

But Naismith did manage to end that particular skid. In 1906, Naismith's Jayhawks clobbered K.C.'s YMCA, 56-6, in Kansas City.

The YMCA is looking into the possibility of opening a fitness storefront or full-scale community center in Lawrence.

Such considerations are in their "infancy," said Rob Sauve, vice president for facilities and property management at the YMCA of Greater Kansas City.

The YMCA is looking at two or three sites in town. Northwest Lawrence would be a logical place to consider, Sauve said, including the northwest corner of Sixth Street and Wakarusa Drive as Wal-Mart proceeds with plans for building a store there.

Also in the mix: the Wakarusa Crossroads center at the intersection's southwest corner, near Salty Iguana and HH Bar & Grill.

Sauve said factors such as existing population, future development plans and the length of drive times would be weighed during discussions.

"The northwest part of town is where the growth is, so that would be one we would be looking at," Sauve said.

While such considerations are active, they are far from certain to be leading to a new YMCA in town, at least not anytime soon. The operation already has "four or five" other projects going in the Kansas City area, Sauve said.

Officials in Kansas City are just now starting to consider whether to embark on a market study, which would be a four-week project and the first real step toward a plan. For now, Sauve said, only a handful of Realtors have provided some tentative options to the YMCA.

Market conditions, money available and other factors still must be considered before anything progresses.

"We're at step one of about a 100-step process," he said.

Scott Jerwick, of K.C. Commercial Realty Group in Prairie Village, confirmed that his firm had sent information about Wakarusa Crossroads to the YMCA. The shopping center includes the vacant Googols of Fun storefront, plus two sites where stand-alone buildings could be added.

"It's a big use. It's a big draw," Jerwick said, noting YMCA officials were seeking "very aggressive deals" during their growth push. "They definitely want to have something in Lawrence."

Should Lawrence pass the market test, Sauve said, YMCA leaders would need to decide which concept might be appropriate for the community.

Among the options:

¢ A YMCA Express, which would provide exercise equipment, weights, locker rooms, a small nursery and a potential yoga room. Such locations can be built to suit or moved into an existing space. Typical cost: At least $1 million.

¢ A family center. Such locations offer more features and services, including gymnasiums, workout areas, an indoor swimming pool and more. A center can cover more than 25,000 square feet and cost at least $6 million.

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City already has 18 locations in places stretching as far from the urban center as Bonner Springs and Osawatomie, Platte City, Mo., and Blue Springs, Mo.

In Kansas overall, there are 28 YMCA operations in 17 Kansas communities: Kansas City, Bonner Springs, Topeka, Olathe, Prairie Village, Atchison, Osawatomie, Viola, Elmdale, Wichita, El Dorado, Garden City, Junction City, McPherson, Hutchinson, Pittsburg and Salina.


Aileen Dingus 10 years ago

I'm excited at the thought of the Y coming here, but, living on the south east side of things as I do, I'm a little bummed that they're thinking of putting it in the north west. I'm not saying I wouldn't support it wherever it lands, but I think the demographic that would be more inclined to use a Y (as opposed to a higher end gym/daycare) is further east.

merrywidow033 10 years ago

vavs0929 (Anonymous) says:Yes please: it will be nice to have someone to go workout that ISNT Lawrence Athletic sentiments exactly.

Alison Roberts 10 years ago

Yes please... it will be nice to have someone to go workout that ISNT Lawrence Athletic Club.

Nikki May 10 years ago

If the Y opens a family center, their prices are usually not too bad. Tons of people will be buying memberships so their kids can swim at least. I am sure it will be cheaper than the public pool. I just wish they'd put it in an area where there is more low income than in a "growing" area. Lawrence is growing east too. There are a ton of new homes near O'Connell.

Take_a_letter_Maria 10 years ago

3girls (Anonymous) says: I also think that the Y would be better on the East side of town. There is already a pool at Free Stat High School. The East side of town could use something like that for the kids. For families who live on the East and South East side of town it take at least 15 minutes to drive to Free State. That's a lot of gas and time. Plus, there are more lower income families. Just my 2 cents.-------------------------------------------------------------------------Why drive all the way to Free State when the Knox is available at LHS?

somebodynew 10 years ago

M-DI am just positive that you are correct. It will offend someone - - BUT not me. That was a good way to start my day. Thank You.!!!

Jayson Hawk 10 years ago

Lawrence needs a family center. It's about time.

LogicMan 10 years ago

Some kind of family entertainment center (indoor miniature golf, lasertag, etc.) would be good in the old Food-4-Less/Gibsons building. I've heard that Food-4-Less is still paying the lease, so someone could likely get very affordable terms on a sublease for that space.

Sigmund 10 years ago

Count me in for a membership no matter where they land.

geniusmannumber1 10 years ago

Oh, look, G_y_p_a_s hates Christians AND gays. What a delightful combination.Somebody must have had a very traumatic childhood.

iplaysupernintendo 10 years ago

I would be delighted if we got a YMCA here in town. I'm with dialupandy- when I first moved here I figured there HAD to be one in town, I just didn't know where! :)

chocolateplease 10 years ago

This would be great. The northwest side has the freestate pool, but it has limited hours, and for about everything else, you have to drive east or southeast. But either way, I would be very supportive. I've belonged to the Y in other states, and have seen that it's a wonderful community resource.

earline james 10 years ago

I can't find a fitness class through Parks and Rec or the Arts Center that 1) isn't at Holcolm, 2) isn't during the work day or too early on Saturday morning and 3) isn't for crazy people training for the Olympics. I can't go to Body Boutique (long story) and I won't go to Curves. Parks and Rec will not offer a class at the East Lawrence Center, that starts about 5:30; and the Arts Center wants $11 per class for the yoga intro (and I am seriously not that good! I'm more the $2 class type. Maybe they'd owe me change. $66 for 6 classes. That's funny.). I keep hearing exercise is good medicine, but if it's too expensive, too hard and too far away, well, that's a lot of stress that can not be good for me.

BalkansHawk 10 years ago

laughingtokeepfromcrying - Try running or walking outdoors. You can do that almost anytime of the day almost any side of town. It is free and you don't have to worry about the Olympians getting in your way. As for the Body Boutique thing, some stories are better left untold.G_Y_P_A_S - Is that you Rev P_H_E_L_P_S?

otto 10 years ago

What more could we want on the East- south-east side. We already have the wetlands, Farmland plant, lots of traffic, downtown and we all know that these are the most important things in Lawrence. Build the SLT and throw in a Y.

Jessica Hull 10 years ago

I also think that the Y would be better on the East side of town. There is already a pool at Free Stat High School. The East side of town could use something like that for the kids. For families who live on the East and South East side of town it take at least 15 minutes to drive to Free State. That's a lot of gas and time. Plus, there are more lower income families. Just my 2 cents.

justforfun 10 years ago

Bring on the "village people" doin the YMCA

storm 10 years ago

Lawrence really needs more family-friendly amenities so I say yes to a YMCA or YWCA if it can provide a place where seniors can safely walk for excerise, where people can safely run for excerise instead of in the street, children can get child-care maybe for worthless Wednesday, affordable classes at logical times, and summer camp for children.

BigPrune 10 years ago

I'm surprised the City hasn't told them they have to locate downtown somewhere.

jydracing 9 years, 11 months ago

The Y! This is what we need, another business that comes to Lawrence and pays no taxes. No property taxes and no sales taxes. They do not help the city with taxes, so the city doesnt have money to fix the streets, curbs, sewers, or anything. The school districts does not receive anything from the Y and our kids suffer, (no property taxes). The Y's in Wichita made about 28 million in 2007 and paid no taxes. What could city and the school district do with the taxes off of $28 million dollars. It will also hurt the city programs because it will take dollars/people away from the city programs. What programs will the city have to drop, due to no money. Maybe everyone should really take a look at what the Y's will not do for Lawrence, before we give away the bank.

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