105-year-old YMCA building to close

Posted at 7:41 PM, Mar 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-09 23:22:13-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — After 105 years in operation and generations of people using the facility, the YMCA in downtown KCK will be closing.

The announcement was made on Friday by the Unified Government of Wyandotte County and KCK.

In a press release, leaders said a recent inspection report found the building to be “no longer safe for patrons”.

A spokesman for the YMCA told 41 Action News that aside from leaks inside the old building and roof issues, significant dangers were recently found.

“The supporting components, the foundation, we’ve got floor plates that are beginning to shift and show significant cracks,” explained YMCA Senior Vice President of Capital Assets and Risk Mark Hulet. “(The inspectors) gave us a report last night and that report recommended that we exit the building immediately.”

The announcement on Friday brought heartbreak for some of the volunteers at the facility.

Chris Hill, who worked at the downtown YMCA for five years, said he was sad to say goodbye to the building.

“It helped change my life working out here and the friendships with the people I met,” he explained. “It was a nice place when it was open. It was a wonderful place to be at.”

Hill said losing the YMCA building would have a big impact downtown with many people often using the place to workout or socialize.

“A lot of people, if you asked around, they would call this place home,” he explained. “To close the doors on it, you’re saying, ‘Hey downtown KCK, we’re taking your gym away.’”

The decision came five years after the YMCA fought off closure due to building issues and declining membership.

With the help of local government funding and increased efforts to boost membership, the YMCA stayed open in 2013.

After Friday’s closure, staff said the focus would be on raising money for a new state-of-the-art facility downtown.

Moving forward, Chris Hill said it would be tough to replace the 8th Street YMCA.

“When you close these doors, you close these doors on a generation of families,” he explained. “It’s generations of families that come work out here.”

Staff said that the employees impacted by the closure would receive assistance getting placed elsewhere.

After a request from 41 Action News, the YMCA chose not to release inspection reports of the downtown facility.