The plan to save the downtown YMCA from closing

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — The Downtown Sioux Falls YMCA has been a landmark in the area for 100 years. But KELOLAND News has learned it is now jeopardy of closing. However, local business leaders are stepping up to try to save that from happening.

You may remember four years ago the Sioux Falls YMCA Downtown underwent some major changes.

A $10 million construction project turned a big portion of the building into low to moderate income apartments.

Today those apartments have an occupancy rate of 95%.

But the rest of the building is struggling.

Tonight only on KELOLAND News, we reveal a plan to save the YMCA for neighborhood youth, spearheaded by the developer of the apartments.

In 2015, Developer Craig Lloyd took us on a tour of his YMCA apartment project:

Angela Kennecke:  “What are you most proud of?

Lloyd:  Saving an old building. We saved this building from demo; deterioration.’

While the building has been saved, Sioux Falls is now at risk of losing the YMCA, where fitness memberships have now dipped below 100 people. Competitors like Great Life have gobbled up most of the fitness market.

“The YMCA couldn’t compete with all those, even with the facility and everything else–as hard as we tried, with a brand new facility,” Craig Lloyd said.

But what does that mean for the neighborhood students who take part in the free after school program?

“We’re left with the need, but no money,” Lloyd said.

The YMCA could no longer make its monthly mortgage payments to the bank and the facility was in jeopardy of closing down altogether.

Angela Kennecke: “Is the YMCA bankrupt?”
John Archer, YMCA Board Member: “I don’t know if I would use the word bankrupt. The YMCA is suffering some financial difficulties and we’re working with our bank and getting to the position where I think that we can be financially solvent and go forward.”

Developer Craig Lloyd is asking the business community to step up and shell out:

“$3 million,” Lloyd said.

In a little more than a month, he’s raised $1.2 million for the cause. The YMCA is hoping the rest will be an easy sell to the community.

“We need to have the community come forward and in essence buy the building for what will be a community purpose and that is serving the Whittier and Pettigrew areas,” Archer said.

The YMCA, the Boys & Girls Club and THRIVE are banding together to provide programming for youth in the building.

“They have a great mission. They have an excellent track record in terms of support in our community. And I think that building is absolutely critical to what our vision is for Pettigrew Heights area and really transforming what that looks like for our community, “ Rebecca Wimmer of the Sioux Falls Boys & Girls Clubs said.  

“We don’t want it to be a Boys Club and Girls Club. We don’t want it to be a YMCA program. We want it to be a community youth center so the community comes together to help solve the problem,” Lloyd said.

This is not affecting the YMCA’s successful Leif Ericson summer camp program.

Adult fitness memberships and racquetball tournaments will continue to be offered.

Wednesday the initiative to save the YMCA and transform it into a Community Youth Center will be unveiled at a luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn. KELOLAND News will be there to cover it.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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