YMCA Sets Southeast Upgrade

September 6, 2007
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GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP — Armed with a $3 million gift from trucking executive Harvey Gainey and his wife, Annie, the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids plans to build a new facility to replace the Southeast YMCA in Forest Hills.

To be named the Gainey Family YMCA, the new facility is estimated at 80,000 square feet, compared to the current 27,000-square-foot building constructed in 1979. In keeping with the YMCA’s policy, the new Y will be built for certification under Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards.

“The current space has restricted us in program growth,” Southeast YMCA Executive Director Kristine VanVonderen said. “In planning for the new facility, we’re going to look at a lot of innovative programs — fitness and arts and humanities programming and other youth-focused programs. We also want to have an area to serve active older adults.”

The new building will be constructed on the same 11-acre site at 730 Forest Hill Ave. SE that contains the current Southeast YMCA, which will be torn down after the new building is open, VanVonderen said.

The Southeast YMCA has 4,900 members and attracts another 5,000 nonmembers to its programs, she said.

“No child is ever turned away because they can’t afford a program,” VanVonderen said. “Fifteen to 17 percent of families in this facility are on scholarship.”

YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids President & CEO Ron Nelson said that based on research, he expects the organization will be able to raise $20 million in donations to pay for both the new building in Forest Hills and the previously announced Spartan Stores YMCA planned for the Metro Health Village in Wyoming. Successful fundraising would allow construction of both projects to start next year, he said. Spartan Stores donated $3 million toward the building.

The organization also is planning a $2 million, 7,244-square-foot expansion of the Wolverine Worldwide YMCA in Belmont, Nelson said.

The 159,000-square-foot David D. Hunting YMCA opened in downtown Grand Rapids in July 2005. The organization also has the Visser Family YMCA in Grandville, facilities in Lowell and Ionia, and Camp Manitou-Lin near Middleville. The organization has 46,000 members and 900 employees.

For 2004-05, the latest tax year available, YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids reported to the Internal Revenue Service revenue of $18.3 million and expenses of $15.1 million, with assets of $26.3 million.

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