Up to $1 million may need to be invested in the Downtown YMCA of St. Joseph building to bring its internal infrastructure up to full functionality, and that cost would be borne by any prospective buyer.
About five such prospective entities are known to the local YMCA Board of Directors, according to board chair Ron Hook. The six-to-seven-figure investment figure was shared by Larry Koch, who toured the building at 315 S. 6th St. on Wednesday with St. Joseph School District Board of Education colleague Rick Gilmore. The purchase price of the building itself has yet to be negotiated.
“I think they’re going to come up with what an idea would be to replace or repair what’s (necessary) to do,” Hook said. “And then, once they get that, they’ll hopefully come back to us and we can negotiate something.”
YMCA CEO Sue White emphasized on Wednesday that these conversations remain “very preliminary.” However, the building will close if no buyer is found in time to take over operations on Thursday, Oct. 1.
White and Hook told the school board’s Finance Committee on Monday that the buyer, if it proves to be the school district, would likely rent space back to the YMCA — particularly the heated swimming pool — for certain YMCA member classes and events. The prospective purchase has been described as a rescue plan.
Koch and Gilmore toured the Downtown YMCA as that plan, which is hardly guaranteed, gradually develops. Koch chairs the school board’s Facilities Planning Committee; Gilmore leads the Finance Committee. Koch said that at this time, he is skeptical that it would be prudent for the school district to buy the Downtown YMCA.
“After touring this building, I have trouble imagining how we might reconfigure this in a manner that would adequately satisfy our mission of educating students,” Koch added.
Koch is open to a hypothetical arrangement to cushion the cost of needed repairs, plus the $15,000 to $20,000 that would be needed per month for basic operational costs. But this would be a large hill to climb. If the SJSD purchase went through, Koch explained, the district would use the building extensively. In addition to the basketball floor and swimming pool, which is unique in the area based on its elevated temperature of about 85 degrees, several classrooms and new activity spaces would likely be installed.
He said he finds himself getting back down to the central issue: Money.
“We have many old buildings right now that the operational costs are quite high on,” Koch said. “And we’ve got to do something with them. If this (building) could replace one of those, do you change the operating costs? That may be more palatable.
“Right now, I don’t see it.”