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Walls go up for new YMCA; fees will too

Higher fees are intended to help maintain the building under construction at 3200 First Ave. S.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 7, 2001


ST. PETERSBURG -- More space indoors, athletic fields outdoors and new programs will greet members when the YMCA opens its new headquarters this fall.

Fees also will increase at the 55,000-square-foot Jim and Heather Gills YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, which is being built at 3200 First Ave. S in the Central Plaza area. For example, a family membership that is now $35 per month will rise to $50.

Walls are up, arches and windows are visible and duct work and plumbing are starting to go in. The roof should be on by month's end, said Doug Linder, the YMCA president.

The Y's $11-million capital campaign has produced about $8-million so far, and fundraising efforts continue, said Rick Montondo, vice president for financial development.

Meanwhile, the current building at 116 Fifth St. S is still for sale with an $850,000 price tag. Several prospective buyers have shown interest, but none has been able to make a deal on the 74-year-old building.

Plans still call for a YMCA branch downtown to accommodate residents and businesses there, Linder said, but no site has been identified. The Y also expects to open a permanent building in the Harbordale neighborhood for the Y Achievers, an academic skills program.

Y officials Tuesday talked about what the new Y will offer as they conducted the first of a series of "hard-hat" tours to let community leaders see how the new building is progressing.

It will have among its amenities:

A six-lane indoor pool that is 25 yards long, with a wade-in entrance, children's play area, a slide and a spa.

A gymnasium more than twice as large as the current one, with room for two basketball courts.

A 3,200-square-foot adventure center with a climbing wall, a high-ropes course and a climbing cave.

Separate locker rooms for men, women, boys, girls and families.

A 6,100-square-foot fitness center with free weights and machines.

A babysitting area.

Athletic fields east of the building where Tee-ball, soccer and flag football for both men and women will be played.

A room for aerobics and self-defense classes.

A teen center to include computer labs.

The 11-acre site will include room for 250 parking spaces.

Plans also call for gardening and card clubs for senior citizens, a Hi-Y teen club, a teen leadership club and family nights.

"We really want to do some stuff that's not just the traditional physical stuff," Montondo said.

Swimming programs and various basketball leagues will be continued, and an indoor soccer program will be added.

One activity that won't be immediately available is racquetball, currently played on courts in the downtown building. They may be added later when the $11-million goal campaign is complete, Montondo said.

"Our aim is to open debt-free," he said.

Higher fees will help maintain the new building, Montondo said.

An adult membership goes from $23 to $35 monthly; and a youth membership rises from $10 to $20 monthly.

In May, reduced fees will be available during a special membership promotion. Montondo wouldn't reveal them yet, but said there will be "some real incentives to join."

He also said many opportunities remain to contribute to the new building. He mentioned the availability of charter memberships at $1,500. They are payable over three years and include a family or individual membership, five guest passes, a $900 tax deduction and name recognition on the building's "donor wall."

For information about YMCA programs, call 895-9622.

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