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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Demolition begins for new downtown YMCA

By Ron sylvester
The Wichita Eagle

WICHITA — With three quarters of the start-up money already raised, demolition began this afternoon for a new downtown YMCA.

Fundraising has brought in $6.3 million since the first of the year, said Steve Clark, chairman of the Every Kid Capital Campaign.

"We need a minimum of $8.3 million to get this started," Clark said.

The project received a boost this week with a $1.4 grant from the Tulsa-based Mabee Foundation.

The remainder of the funds for the $40 million project will come from financing through income from Wichita's YMCAs.

"We are a not-for-profit, so all of those funds are poured back into the program," Clark said.

Wichita Y officials also announced the kickoff of other projects, including outdoor and indoor sport facilities on the east side of the city, similar to the Farha complex at the South Y.

But the focus today remained on rebuilding the downtown Y from its current home, built in 1959.

"We have world-class YMCA facilities in Wichita that you don't see in other communities," said Jeff Fluhr, president of the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation.

Construction crews knocked down the first walls on nearby buildings that will be demolished to make way for the 110,000 square-foot building.

"Downtown is actually the living room for the City of Wichita," Mayor Carl Brewer said. "This is really going to enhance our living room."

The existing downtown YMCA at 3rd and Market will remain open while the new facility is being built.

The new facility is expected to serve 30,000 people throughout the area. The Greater Wichita YMCA serves more than 250,000 local kids and adults through child care, camping, urban outreach programs and healthy lifestyles activities.

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