Marietta Family YMCA puts building for sale

MARIETTA — In an opening step toward modernization, the Marietta Family YMCA is putting its building on the market.

YMCA board chair Rick Smith said the decision was driven by the expressed preferences of the organization’s members and a general need for a more modern space. The building on Seventh Street dates back 50 years.

“After listening to the membership and the community, the innovations available and the needs of our members, we concluded we cannot fulfill those expectations in the current building,” Smith said. “We’re excited about the idea of transitioning into a new space.”

Smith said the board has no fixed plan for where it might move, and he suggested that it’s open to the possibility of partnering with another organization or agency.

“We’re exploring several options,” he said.

Although the current building — on a 1.8-acre property, occupying about 78,000 square feet — is outgrowing its usefulness for the YMCA, Smith said it could be suitable for any number of other uses.

“The land and property are in a prime location; it could be attractive to anyone who wants to build or expand,” he said. “The opportunity is fantastic.”

Renovating the building to bring it up to what members want would be prohibitively costly, Smith said.

“The world of exercise has changed since that building was built 50 years ago. As a small example, treadmills not only have TVs, but now you can watch Netflix on them. On a small level, that’s what exercise facilities around the country are doing,” he said. “The building is aging, and a fresh, new space would be exciting for everyone.”

The YMCA has about 900 memberships on file, some of which include families counted as a single members.

The number of people who are members is probably around 1,050, Smith said.

The building includes a pool, exercise equipment and weight training rooms, indoor court sports facilities and a variety of rooms for group exercise and activities.

It offers programs for seniors, families and children, including recreational sports, fitness and lessons.

Smith said it’s difficult to plan anything until the sale of the building plays out.

“We don’t have a timeline; it’s hard to do at this point. It’s like moving out of a house, you don’t know when it will sell,” he said. “We’re continuing to evaluate locations and possible partnerships.”

The YMCA has at times in its history examined collaborations with the city and with Washington State Community College. Another fitness and activity-oriented organization in Marietta seeking a new space is the O’Neill Center.

O’Neill executive director Connie Huntsman said she had heard that the YMCA was considering relocation.

“I was made aware that they are making some changes,” she said. “We’re always looking for ways to explore partnerships, but there’s nothing of substance.”

The aging population demographic of Marietta has been a matter of concern for many, but it’s been a boon for the O’Neill, with its focus on senior activities and wellness, run in an aging building on Fourth Street. The O’Neill Center has been seeking new quarters for months.

“We’re continuing to look,” Huntsman said. “The senior population is continuing to explode, and with these facilities we’re not able to provide what it needs.”

Smith said the prospect of moving the YMCA is somewhat daunting, but a benefit of being part of a national organization is that there is advice and assistance available.

“The hard thing for me when I first thought about it is, ‘We’re moving a gym,’ but it’s way beyond that. We’re moving a business, we’re moving products, we’re moving services, infrastructure, staff,” he said. “Fortunately, we’re working with a national resource center, the Y of the USA, they are experts and are helping us with the process. We’ve got a team of staff and board that is motivated and ready to go.”

In the meantime, he said, it will be business as usual.

“During the transition, we don’t anticipate any services or programs being suspended, everything is operating as normal,” he said. “There will be no changes at all.”

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