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.
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).
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