City Council: Former YMCA building razing on hold

KAREN VIBERT-KENNEDY/Sun-Gazette The old YMCA building on the corner of West Fourth and Elmira Streets in the city on Friday.

A local developer eyeing demolition of the YMCA, “Children’s Discovery Workshop,” building will have to wait at least two more weeks to determine if he is given the green light to allow the wrecking ball.

City Council put a halt on the razing of the building owned by Herman Logue Thursday. Logue’s plan is to have the property demolished and then seeded.

City Councilwoman Liz Miele said she wants a little time to pursue a “third-party” developer to salvage the building at 343 W. Fourth St.

Miele, who said she has an affinity for the historic and wanted to preserve the character of the building at the entrance on West Fourth Street to the city’s historic district, and find someone to salvage the structure, which dates back to 1923, when it opened as the second edifice of the YMCA in the city.

The first YMCA was at 211 W. Fourth St., and was completed in 1888, said Bruce Huffman, a local historic investigator.

At the time the 1923 structure was built, it had 121 dormitory rooms for boys and young men as part of the YMCA continuing mission, Huffman said.

In more recent times, the building was part of a real estate deal sealed in 2013 by developer Daniel A. Klingerman, president and CEO of The Liberty Group, 1500 Sycamore Road in Loyalsock Township.

Klingerman envisioned renovating it for mixed-use as residential and building office space, but that did not materialize.

Instead, Klingerman tore down the other part of the YMCA, which is closer to West Third Street, and it became the Liberty Arena, which is undergoing additional renovation with a restaurant and family entertainment arcade scheduled to open in October.

The Discovery building was taken over temporarily by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce. No other developers sought to buy or renovate the building, which was on sale for $1.

“It would require millions to renovate it,” said Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator.

During a recent tour with Mayor Gabriel J. Campana, water damage was seen and someone had broken in and stolen pipes.

Another concern for Logue, is finding adequate parking for his developments, Gerardi said.

A project Logue has under way at West Third and Hepburn streets is slow going until parking arrangments are made, he said.