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Greater Wichita YMCA plans $7.5 million overhaul of East Y

Artist rendering of the planned expansion and renovation of the East YMCA.
Artist rendering of the planned expansion and renovation of the East YMCA. Courtesy image, YMCA

A major renovation and expansion project are coming to the Wichita East YMCA and the city will be asked to float bonds to help pay for it.

The project will include a "very significant overhaul" of the club's 13,000 feet of current square feet, plus the addition of 7,000 square feet of new space, said Shelly Conrady, YMCA vice president of marketing.

YMCA management had planned to announce changes coming to the East facility last week. But that got delayed, so the news of the project surfaced on the City Council agenda. At its Tuesday meeting, the council will consider issuing $25 million worth of bonds for the YMCA system.

The lion's share of the bond request, $17.5 million, will help fund the construction of a new YMCA facility at the Innovation Campus of Wichita State University, which had been previously announced.

The expansion at the East Y will provide new space for the Early Learning Center to provide more child development activity and healthy foods to children in the infant to pre-K age group.

It will also allow for expansion of the Y's family center along with enlarging and renovating the existing fitness spaces.

The entrance to the facility will be relocated, to improve traffic flow and safety for members and for families and children attending the learning center.

The YMCA has had an east-side facility for more than 75 years. The current facility was built in the 1980s, Conrady said.

The club serves about 20,000 patrons a year, including members and children who participate in school programming. People who can't afford to pay full membership dues are charged on a sliding scale based on ability to pay.

The project is expected to be completed about the end of this year, Conrady said.

Ordinarily, industrial revenue bonds are used to finance business expansions, so businesses can be exempted from property taxes for up to 10 years and don't have to pay sales tax on materials and furnishings used in the project.

The YMCA is a nonprofit organization and already tax-exempt, so no exemptions are requested in its application, according to a city staff report.

Conrady said the YMCA is seeking city bond funding primarily because it will allow the group to finance its projects at a lower interest rate than if the organization borrowed in the private market.

The YMCA will pay back all borrowed money from its own funds, plus the city's costs of managing the bonds.

No city funds are expected to be spent, according to the staff report.

Dion Lefler; 316-268-6527, @DionKansas
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