Charlotte YMCA adding three branches

Todd Cohen 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Aiming to keep pace with rising demand, YMCA of Greater Charlotte is developing three new branches, and starting to think about developing even more.

Fueled by requests from communities they will serve, the new branches will be located in Lincoln and Union counties and in downtown Charlotte.

The expansion, which will increase to 24 the number of Y locations, will cost $11.5 million, with each community raising funds to develop its branch, says Michael A. De Vaul, senior vice president for organizational advancement at YMCA of Greater Charlotte.

And in three to five years, he says, Union County and the northern and eastern parts of Mecklenburg County could get more new branches.

The Lincoln County branch, in Denver, will be named Sally’s Y, cost $7.5 million and be the YMCA’s second Lincoln branch.

Chaired by Joe and David Clark, whose daughter Sally died in a 2004 automobile accident, the campaign for the new branch has raised just over $6 million, De Vaul says.

The Union County branch, which will be the third in the county, will cost up to $4 million. Its location has not been determined.

While it is just beginning, the campaign for the new branch already has received a lead gift of $2 million from local business executive Tommy Hall.

The new downtown branch will be located at street level in the new 48-story First Street corporate headquarters Wachovia plans to open in spring 2009 at South Tryon and Stonewall streets.

The new branch, which will be the YMCA’s fourth in downtown, has been named for Mac Everett, a civic leader and retired Wachovia executive.

Under an agreement with Wachovia and real-estate developer Childress Klein that will let it locate its new branch in the bank’s new headquarters, the YMCA will not have raise any money for the branch.

While the Childress Klein Y is located only a few blocks away, and the Gateway Y and Dowd Y are located near downtown, the Mac Everett Y aims to meet growing demand, De Vaul says.

“You have such an explosion of downtown population growth,” he says. “People need places to gather.”

The new downtown Y also aims to connect downtown businesses with teens in the Charlotte region.

The Y, for example, is talking with the Harvey Gantt Afro-American Cultural Center about partnering on a new program to team downtown residents and workers with teens and families throughout the city.

As with all its branches, which serve over 171,000 people and 64,000 households in Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and southern Iredell counties, the new branches will be available to anyone, regardless of theirability to pay, thanks to scholarships the Y provides.

With funds it raises in its annual drive, the Y last year provided over $5 million in financial assistance to over 8,100 households that otherwise would not have been able to afford Y memberships, De Vaul says.

“In every location,” he says, “our strategy is that no one will be denied access based on income.”

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