YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – In 1915, President William Howard Taft donated the building that sits on North Champion Street to the YMCA. Over 100 years later, the building has expanded to almost double the size and opened Thursday after some major renovations.
The YMCA has always been part of the downtown community. Now, with new renovations, they hope to bring in more people.
President and CEO Thomas Gacse says with hotels going in downtown, more Youngstown State University students moving to the area, and new business, he felt their presence and new renovations were much needed.
Instead of moving and building a brand new facility, the YMCA board decided to renovate the 102-year-old building. It took $5 million and one year to get it done.
“We are one of two Ys in the nation with no debt, which is truly amazing for downtown Youngstown,” Gacse said.
With Planet Fitness and other smaller gyms popping up around the Valley, the YMCA prides itself on what those gyms can’t offer – a variety of workouts.
David Whipkey plays basketball at the YMCA. It’s a workout he prefers over being stationary.
“We usually play basketball. Our friends will try to make us lift, but it’s not too successful at times. We hit the treadmills every now and then,” Whipkey said.
Clemate Franklin, class instructor and building supervisor, said the YMCA offers several resistance training workouts and other innovative strength training exercise programs along with a new cardio room overlooking downtown. There is also a new children’s area.
“It’s really created a buzz and excitement for the downtown,” Gacse said.
The YMCA is still in the process of campaigning to build another location on Victoria Road that could help out western Mahoning County and people in Trumbull County.
Fifty percent of fundraising for that project is complete and plans for the facility could be coming soon.