Originally Published 5:22pm, June 12, 2018
Evansville Courier & Press
by John Martin
EVANSVILLE, Ind. — Apropos for the occasion, Beth McFadin Higgins used workout lingo to describe how the new YMCA building will impact Evansville.
The $18 million facility will “strengthen the core” of the city, said McFadin Higgins, president of the Southwest Indiana Regional Development Authority.
Tuesday’s ceremonial groundbreaking at the Downtown site kicked off a construction project that will be led by Evansville contractor Skanska. The tentative completion date is August 2019, and YMCA officials said members will enjoy the final result.
The two-floor building on Court Street, between Fifth and Sixth streets, will have most of the amenities the current Downtown YMCA has, and then some.
“A lot of them will be larger, and more accessible or flexible,” said Derrick Stewart, executive director of the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana. “We were in a building currently that was built in three different eras for three different purposes. But now we’ll be in one facility that’s designed for the purposes we’ll be using it for.”
Added features in the new YMCA will be a STEM learning center and a teaching kitchen.
“It will provide a great venue where we can show people how to prepare healthy meals and do it on a budget,” Stewart said.
Funding for the project is coming from Indiana’s Regional Cities program, which was created to support economic development endeavors across the state; a private fund-raising campaign chaired by Old National Bank Chairman and CEO Bob Jones; and tax credits.
YMCA news: Downtown Evansville to get new YMCA
YMCA members will continue pouring sweat at the current Downtown facility until the new one opens next year. One section of that building is to be converted into an affordable housing development that will be known as Central Lofts.
The future of the rest of the building is still undetermined, Stewart said.
The YMCA’s board 18 months ago began work on a plan to renovate the existing Downtown facility. As that project grew more complicated, it was scrapped, and plans took root to build anew.
A former office building used by the Evansville Housing Authority has been razed to make way for the new YMCA.
YMCA Board President Sara Miller credited her predecessor, Dave Mitchell, for doing much to steer the process leading to a new facility.
“Today would not be possible without the support of our board, community leaders and financial donors,” Miller said.