Plans for a new city YMCA took a big step forward Wednesday with the announcement that the present facility at 320 Elmira St. has been sold to a local developer and that the organization has come to terms with Susquehanna Health on a long-term lease on land where the new facility will be built.
Dave Fagerstrom, executive director and CEO of the River Valley Regional YMCA, said the organization's board of trustees approved the sale of the downtown property Wednesday to Loyalsock-based Liberty Group, owned by Dan Klingerman.
Terms of the sale, which includes the Pickelner Arena, the original YMCA building and nearby parking lots, were not disclosed, however previous reports put the asking price at about $2.5 million.
A new, $10 million YMCA is expected to be under construction by next spring on the campus of the Williamsport Regional Medical Center, just south of the hospital's new patient tower between High Street and Park Avenue.
"Every time we take another step forward, we get more believers," Fagerstrom said of the project. "These developments show that the volunteers' efforts over the last year are now coming to fruition."
Klingerman said by email Wednesday that his company plans to develop the site in conjunction with Mayor Gabriel J. Campana's "Destination 2014" project to turn the old YMCA space into apartments and expand and update the arena as a multi-use sports arena.
Office, retail and outdoor recreation spaces are also being considered for the location. City Council has reviewed plans for the project from Delta Development Corp., of Mechanicsburg, but has not voted on the matter. A vote could come tonight during City Council's meeting.
"The arena, which is 38,000 square feet will eventually have an addition to it which will be approximately 22,000 square feet. This will be the new Williamsport Civic Center," Klingerman said.
"We are especially excited about the mayor's concept and the 'Green at Williamsport,' which is the focus point of the entire concept. It will bring together many of the new and exciting attractions in the downtown Williamsport area. This will be a true private-public venture that will benefit all of the surroundings in the Williamsport business district."
"The staff and volunteers at the Y feel good about the sale because the community will not be losing the intended use of the arena," added Chad Eberhart, Williamsport YMCA branch executive director.
The Liberty Group will take possession of the arena on Saturday and will close on the remaining property "once the new YMCA facility is completed at Susquehanna Health sometime in the spring of 2014," said Klingerman.
He said the center YMCA building in which the pool is housed will be demolished to make way for the civic center expansion.
Fagerstrom said the sale brings the YMCA closer to the total amount needed to fund a new facility, but additional community donations and government tax credits are still required to close the gap.
He said about $2 million is expected from the federal New Markets Tax Credits program, which gives such credits to businesses that invest in the project.
"We're told that there is bilateral support in Congress and a vote is expected by year end," Fagerstrom said of the program.
Terms of the lease agreement with Susquehanna Health were not announced.