YMCA relocation helps to create downtown buzz

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The Danville Family YMCA is moving just a few blocks farther downtown, but its new address and new services could help the city attract new businesses, officials say. “It’s giving us the buzz, as they say in the business,” notes City Manager Lyle Lacey.

The YMCA, which has outgrown its current 42-year-old site, will build a $13.5 million facility on a four-acre site in White Mill development. The vacant mill, once a part of Dan River Inc., is being rehabbed to become a data center.

The YMCA project is being funded in part with an $8.1 million grant from the Danville Regional Foundation. The YMCA is expected to raise the remaining $5.4 million within two years.

A marketing study conducted by the YMCA concluded that the organization will be able to serve 4,300 households and triple its current membership with a new riverfront site. Plans for the building are still being developed, but YMCA officials expect to offer a larger swimming pool, expanded services and more exercise facilities.

Lacey says the new building will provide a key quality-of-life amenity to its economic development strategy. It could help attract new businesses that want to offer their employees easy access to health and fitness facilities.

“Danville has paid a lot of attention to its downtown, and we’ve made good progress in bringing it back to life, but this particular investment will certainly take us to the next tier,” Lacey explains. “This is going to bring more folks downtown, and it’s going to be a landmark piece of architecture, which is always a nice addition, so we certainly believe that it will be a catalyst for the continuing redevelopment of the center city.”

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