September 30, 2010

We're getting a new $12 million Y!

Announcing our new Y: From left, Carolyn Milkie, Mount Pleasant 
Village Board president; S. Curtis Johnson, Diversey chairman;
Dan Risch, YMCA board president; and Ed Lonergan, Diversey president.

Racine is getting a new $12 million Y.

The recreational and childcare facility will be built in Mount Pleasant, on 16.6 acres purchased from the village this week for $880,000, just north of the new Village Hall/Police Department/Public Works campus, across the street from the village's planned 30-acre ballfields and recreation complex and within walking distance of the 75-acre Smolenski Park.

The project was announced today at a press conference attended by Y and village officials, alongside top management of Diversey, Inc., which is pledging a $6 million donation. Diversey's headquarters is just across Route 20 as the crow flies."This new YMCA complex will be a real jewel for our community," said Diversey chairman S. Curtis Johnson, right, who said his  "great-great-grandfather" was the YMCA's president.

A Y west of Highway 31 has long been a dream of YMCA management. It is coming to fruition because of the sale and separation of Diversey from SC Johnson which began in 2002 when Unilever bought one-third of the company. The now-publicly-owned company -- the Johnson family owns 50 percent and a private equity firm, Clayton, Dubilier and Rice paid $477 million for 46% last year -- is nearing the end of the 10-year separation from SCJ. Diversey -- once named JohnsonDiversey -- needed to find recreation and childcare facilities for the company's 700 employees -- who no longer would be able to use SCJ's JMBA center.

Thus, they approached the Y, where needs and dreams apparently meshed.

In addition to Diversey's $6 million gift, Johnson said Clayton, Dubilier and Rice has pledged $250,000 and the Johnson family has pledged another $250,000.  Dan Risch, president of the Y board of directors, appeared sanguine about raising the additional $5.5 million. "We wouldn't be standing here if we weren't very confident."

Construction is scheduled to start in the summer of 2011; the Y is due to be completed in two years.

The new Y will be approximately 70,000 sq. ft., and have two swimming pools, a wellness center, gymnasium, exercise room and running track. Diversey President and CEO Ed Lonergan said studies are being conducted to determine how much space will be needed for childcare.  Diversey, which has been shedding employees here and worldwide, has 700 in Racine.

Risch said the Y will be a "state of the art recreation facility." Lonergan said the company "is pleased to offer this facility as a benefit to our employees." He said the building would be built to LEED energy conservation standards to "respect the environment."

Risch and Jeff Collen, chief executive of the Y, restated the organization's commitment to maintaining a facility downtown. "We're strongly committed to where we are," said Risch. Collen said the new facility "won't cannibalize downtown."  Of the Y's 2,000 memberships -- covering 5,500 individuals -- only about 350 live west of Highway 31, he said. At some point in the future -- after the new Y is opened -- the Y expects to look into remodeling its downtown facility on Lake Avenue. There may be a "down-sizing," Collen said, "but we will maintain a strong downtown presence." The Y only owns the basement and first two stories of its present building; the "tower" was sold in December 2003 (for $30,000 and a promise to fix the roof).

Site Plan
Building Components

Meanwhile, the new Police Station and Village Hall are going up

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  1. This is a nice project. Do Mt Pleasant residents get any special deal to use the new Y?

  2. Can they pony up for KRM too?

  3. Is the purchase closed? Does the Y now own the land? Strange to be putting a non-taxed entity in a TIF district.

  4. More amenities for the Waxies' salary serfs...

  5. As the property sits on the village land there was going to be no property taxes paid anyway. Moving the Y programs to an area that people are more likely to use will definitely add to the quality of life.

  6. I guess this means the end of the Downtown Y, just like the Downtown Y in Kenosha. This is really too bad for all of the urban dwellers.

  7. This is "Outstanding".

  8. The Translator10/01/2010 10:17 AM

    OK, this raises a few questions. First off, this must have been in the works for a while. When did Mt Pleasant know and how did this impact the planning and funding of Village Hall. As anyone can see, this will by Diversey's Y. It's own Armstrong Park. Just how much access will you, local taxpayer nobody, have to the programs, childcare, classes and events when you have to compete against employees who's company made this all possible. If you dont think Diversey employees will have first crack at everything you are fooling yourself. If I was a Diversey employee getting cut, I would be livid. Millions for a benefit, but no funding for your jobs, I feel bad for you. Something is not quite right about this. Whenever Milkie looks like the cat that ate the canary I get nervous. I would be interested to hear rom the 'rogue three" on the board as to what really happened. It's not "were getting a new Y" cause "we" arent.

  9. 10:17 - Get over it. It sounds like a great plan for the community and Diversy employees. If it were'nt for their donation this project would never get of the ground.

  10. Wasn't this supposed to happen five years ago when the YMCA sold the summer camp for $5.5 million? What happened to all of that money?

  11. 2:01 - Have you ever heard of paying off debt? If you don't know what you are talking about - don't post.

  12. Thank you to the Johnson Wax family. You have meant more to Racine than can ever be recognized.

  13. Anonymous at 8/1/10 8:01 a.m. Can you explain what you mean? If the property is sold, then the Village doesn't own it. It is still in a TIF. I am not following you.

  14. 2:56 I have heard (and read) about their $2 million in debt-

    Where did the other $3.5 million go, how did they get $2 million in debt in the first place and if it was more than $2 million, how did that happen and why will things be different now?

  15. What did the YMCA end up doing with the land mentioned in this article, which was previously donated to them?

  16. They did not accept the donation.

  17. 9:42 - with all your financial intellegince, maybe you should step up and volunteer your time to the Y and help out.

  18. 7:28, apparently they didn't accept that donation. However, they did accept a previous donation of land in a more western location many years ago. That land was never developed and eventually sold for far below market value, so the Y could cover their operating losses at that time.

    sir, it doesn't take financial intelligence to read the paper and remember what was printed. I would encourage you to re-read and remember the part of this article where they talk about how strongly committed they are to the downtown location (the one that they sold all but the bottom few levels of for $30K and a promise).

  19. Awhile back I wrote this in comments in a johnson Wax photo feature you posted -- and now it came true.

    Most people don't know that the Johnson's Wax story was pretty close to a Rags to Riches story. Samuel C. Johnson was a struggling middle aged flooring salesman. When the local manufacturer he was working for discontinued the wood flooring line Johnson bought it. With hard work and some insight from His son Herbert the company grew to be a world leader.

    The first Samuel C. Johnson lived in a very modest home on Wisconsin Avenue. He's buried in Kenosha the city he considered home.

    We're so lucky that his Children, Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren -- consider Racine as their home.

    Looking in my crystal ball

    Headlines will read some day

    The massive Complex will include a modern new high tech Public Library, Fine Arts Museum, Heritage Museum and a large Theater for stage and music productions. all under one roof with a public mall space in the center. The complex is to be built on City parkland just south of the Racine Zoo.

    A member of the Johnson family remarked at the ribbon cutting - "The best interests of our home town have always been our first priority"

    Laugh now!! But I've seen crazier things happen in my short life. Maybe I'm a dreamer? But so was the original Samuel C. Johnson and look what happened to his dream.


    Pretty close prediction -- I would say.