Preservation back on for former YMCA building – sort of

So, preservation of the YMCA building at West Fourth and Elmira streets is back on.

Sort of.

In a reversal of previous intentions, the developer/owners of the building announced last week that they have dropped an appeal of a City Council decision to prevent demolition of the building.

Even though they believe the better plan is to raze the building, they say it is fine with them if someone can take over ownership of the building and come up with a plan to renovate it that works them and the city.

That’s exactly what City Councilwoman Liz Miele is advocating. She is trying to find suitable developers.

But advocating for something and getting it done are two entirely different things.

The renovation cost for the building is estimated at $5 million by city officials. And while the building is on the edge of the city’s Historic District, it is not on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the National Park Service site.

Not being on the National Register may remove some of the loan and grant and tax credit possibilities that make a ledger sheet work for a developer.

The bottom line is that this parcel of land was never meant to be nothing but a square patch of green grass, as pretty as that would look.

This property needs to be a productive building that generates tax revenue to the city, county and school district. The plan of the original developers for offices, apartments and a restaurant made sense.

We always prefer preservation of anchor buildings in the city, of which the YMCA building is one. But that comes with a caveat. The preservation has to make enough economic sense that a viable development is produced.

If that is not the case, council members need to swallow their pride and seek a rebuilt development on the parcel.

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