Old ‘Y’ building finally finds that safe landing spot

The former YMCA building at the entrance to Williamsport’s historic district on West Fourth Street is vacant and looking quite dilapidated on the outside.

On the inside, it has 14,000 square feet of floors and a basement that are in the repair-or-demolish phase of their life.

Fortunately, that is all about to change.

A Scranton developer has purchased the building with the intention of converting it to marketable apartments.

Thus ends the limbo status of the historic building that was left vacant several years ago when the YMCA moved to its new headquarters just south of UPMC/Susquehanna Hospital. That move has been an obvious success story for the YMCA, but the building on West Fourth Street was left idle and deteriorating with demolition looming. The building has been in the possession of two local developers who promised everything from retail-commercial development to offices to luxury apartments. But nothing has happened.

Under the circumstances, the latest news is the best news that could have been expected. Beyond restoring the building, the planned use of the building makes perfect sense.

The city’s rental housing market needs fresh units and more volume in the hope that rental costs that have risen sharply in the past decade will level off. And the location — provided parking issues can be resolved — is excellent.

On the assumption that the developer can meet city codes and other municipal requirements, this is an excellent direction for the former YMCA.

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