April 9, 2008

YWCA sells its building: 'We've been reborn'

The YWCA building has been sold, to Racine osteopath Dr. Kenneth Kurt. (If that name sounds familiar, it might be because we noted the possibility on Dec. 22.)

The selling price was $500,000; the deal closed on Monday. Reports are that Dr. Kurt will call the building Kurt Sport Complex, and -- with its gym, pool and fitness center -- will offer such treatment as water therapy. (More on Dr. Kurt's plans HERE.)

"We've been reborn. It's a fresh start," said Julie Craig, YWCA board member and the CPA who's been most involved with the Y's financial issues. ("I only take this much abuse for free," she says cheerfully of her volunteer efforts.)

For the past two days, Craig has been catching up on the Y's overdue financial obligations, paying out about $160,000 to clear up bills -- including $28,000 for gas and electricity for just the past four months! at the distinctive brick building at 740 College Ave.

"Most people won't understand," Craig said, emphasizing that the Y is not rolling in money but has merely caught up thanks to the sale. When the YWCA closed the building in December, it was listed at $650,000. Selling was "hard to do in this market, and this type of building," Craig said.

The sale was a long time coming. It was first considered by the board in 1992. In 1998 the board actually voted to sell, but the membership sued to block the sale. "There were a lot of memories tied up in this building; many of our members learned to swim here, then their daughters..." Craig said. The sale motion eventually failed on a technicality.

In 2006, the Y took a different tack, leasing some of its space to others. But that didn't work out (they got stiffed).The board decided again in February 2007 to sell, but it took until December to put together meetings of its members and follow all the rules. At that time, the YWCA's CEO Debbie Embry was also let go.

Members helped clean out the building and lots of historic old photos and paperwork are in archival storage at Merchants Moving and Storage.

Now the Y is free to concentrate on its triad of programs: the River Bend Nature Center, the Empowering Women's Center and Youth Education. Craig noted proudly that 20 women were "suited" last week at the Y's new Empowering Women's Center across from St. Catherine's High School at 1220 Villa St., getting them ready for a job fair. (One of the women had a baby right after getting her new interview clothes.)

The Y has just hired Beverly Peterson as its new development director. She has 17 years' experience working for the Salvation Army, running Camp Wonderland, as an early childhood development director and also in job training -- all three legs that this Y wants to concentrate on.

Announcement of changes at River Bend is promised for April 30.

1 comment:

  1. concrete katie4/09/2008 9:43 PM

    This is terrific for downtown residents.