YMCA Charlotte is considering redeveloping Johnston Y site

YMCA Charlotte is considering redeveloping Johnston Y site

Photo: Katie Peralta Soloff/Axios

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YMCA of Greater Charlotte is “formally exploring redevelopment on the site” of the Johnston Y in NoDa, the organization confirmed with Axios Charlotte Wednesday.

What’s happening: Over the last 10-15 years, the local YMCA has engaged with the community to determine the best use for the 5.8 acres the Johnston Y occupies, YMCA spokesperson Heather Briganti told me.

“Our current building, built in 1951, does not serve current market expectations for flow and function, and has a growing list of deferred maintenance needs,” Briganti said.

The YMCA of Greater Charlotte is working to develop a request for proposals to engage the development community, she added. The goal is to build on “the rich history of the Johnston YMCA, maximize the land, and design an enduring neighborhood hub for the NoDa community.”

Timing on the project is still TBD.

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Between the lines: It’s unclear whether YMCA Charlotte will sell the property for a redevelopment, or continue to maintain ownership. It’s also not yet clear when or if the Johnston Y will close.

“We are still in the early stages of determining what the plans for the site will look like, and no facility changes are expected this year,” Briganti said.

Zoom out: NoDa, an old mill village turned arts district, has been changing rapidly in recent years, thanks in part to the development of the Blue Line light rail.

  • Hundreds of high-end apartments are either planned or under construction in the area. There’s a grocery store planned for 36th Street, too.
  • Luxury townhomes recently went up next to the Johnston Y site. Property values in the area are soaring.

Additionally, The pandemic has crushed the local Y, one of the largest gym networks in the region. As of January, more than half of Y members had either canceled or frozen their memberships, the nonprofit said at the time. That equalled about $40 million in lost revenue.

  • Since reopening, the Johnston Y has kept limited hours.
  • YMCA Charlotte laid off staff across its networks as a way to trim costs.
  • In April, the organization announced a “transformational” gift of $18 million from philanthropist Mackenzie Scott. Most of those funds will go toward social justice initiatives.

My thought bubble: I’ve spent many early mornings at the Johnston Y, which is an institution in NoDa. With a daycare, group sports, camps and other community events, the Johnston Y is more of a community hub and gathering place. Now that life is starting to return to normal, we need more gathering places like the Johnston Y.

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