YMCA Discovery building spared

This recent photo shows the former YMCA Discovery building on West Fourth Street. After a brief battle with members of City Council over the building’s fate, the developer chose not to demolish the structure as previously planned. SUN-GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

In a moment of reflection, developers overseeing the care of the Discovery YMCA building decided not to have it demolished.

“If we can help with the city betterment, and enhance or pass on the building we have decided to,” said Daniel A. Klingerman, president and CEO of The Liberty Group.

Klingerman on Wednesday said he and his business partner, Herman Logue, who holds the deed, decided not to appeal a council decision to prevent the building from demolition. Logue also is working on a nearby building at West Third and Hepburn streets and awaiting additional parking to continue.

“We believe it is the city’s best interest to have the building razed but if someone comes in and can use tax credits and state and federal underwriting to save and renovate the building that is fine with us,” Klingerman said.

The developer had a discussion behind closed doors with council, including Councilwoman Liz Miele, who has advocated for the building to be spared from the wrecking ball while she tries to locate suitable developers.

The renovation cost has been placed at about $5 million in order to meet the building codes, according to Joseph Gerardi, city codes administrator.

It is on the edge of the city Historic District, and not included in a list on the National History Register, according to the National Park Service site.

The building was constructed in 1922 and finished in 1923 as a boys dormitory for the Williamsport YMCA branch, according to local historical investigator Bruce Huffman.

Klingerman said he had all intentions to renovate the structure.

He said he wanted to have apartments on the upper floors and business offices in between with a restaurant on the lower level.

But a little more than two years ago, as Klingerman’s contractor, Lycoming Supply Co., was tearing down other portions of the YMCA to create the Liberty Arena, the vacant YMCA was struck and damage occurred.

It was an accident, but it precipitated what was a more than two-year insurance issue that was resolved by settlement in January, Klingerman said.

“It is not a reflection on the construction company, which does work for us,” he said.

Klingerman said he is acutely aware of the city moving forward and is in the process of adding a restaurant, game arcade, Laser Tag and bowling alley to the Liberty Arena to create a family entertainment facility.

The plan is to have the family destination spot open in October, he said.