JACKSON, Mich. — The Jackson YMCA is inching closer to their goal of bringing a new facility to the city's downtown. CEO Shawna Tello recently announced they are near their $25 million capital campaign goal.
“We are currently at $22.8 million. Very, close to $23 [million]. The exciting thing is we have actually raised more for a capital campaign than any other YMCA in the state of Michigan. So, Jackson has a lot to be proud of,” she said.
But, COVID has created challenges.
The cost of construction has gone up 17 percent according to officials. Tello said that is due to rising costs of labor and an increase in cost of materials as supply chain issues impact businesses nationwide.
“When we launched the campaign back in 2017, we knew roughly the cost per square foot to build. That cost today is 30 percent higher than we started. The YMCA’s are a little bit different than building a home or some other businesses," she said.
They responded by focusing on ways to preserve existing space which they say will lower construction costs. The project will now be a combination of new construction and a complete redevelopment of their existing YMCA.
Construction will start with the expansion of the building and then gradually move into the existing facility.
“At this point, we can’t confirm when the project will be completed but, we’re working closely with a design firm called Grow that specializes in the redevelopment of YMCAs,” Tello said. “They know how important it is that we can maintain operations for our members and also move as quickly as possible through the project.”
Officials say the new facility will offer more than 70,000 square feet of space compared to its current configuration of 66,000 square feet. They say it will duplicate the layout of the what the new facility plan was supposed to be.
“All of the programs and services that we were going to be able to provide in the new facility, through this major development, we’ll be able to provide all of those in the new space and we’ll even be able to retain in the new building expensive spaces to build such as racquetball courts and an indoor climbing wall,” Tello said. “Those were things unfortunately that were going to be removed when we went into the facility and now by retaining the existing facility we’ll be able to retain the programs and services.”
Their next steps are to continue raising money to hit their $25 million goal. Construction should begin in the spring.
“Through the pandemic, we have the opportunity to prove that we do have the ability to pivot during difficult circumstances. This will be another example of how the Jackson YMCA and staff team are able to pivot and continue to provide services that Jackson needs,” Tello said.
Officials say this is the largest capital campaign for a new YMCA in the state of Michigan.
“individuals and organizations have just wrapped their arms around the YMCA and lifted us up to ensure that we have success through this process,” Tello said.
Hannah Scholl, 20, has been working as a lifeguard at the YMCA for almost five years. She’s ready to see what the new facility will do for staff members and guests.
“Everybody’s just waiting for it to happen,” she said. "They’re super excited. I get a lot of questions on what is going to be in the new building. I’m excited because this building is super old and things just seem to be falling apart. So, I feel like the new building has a lot more to offer. Everyone’s like, I hope I’m still around when the new building comes.”
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