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  • Writer's pictureCSG Urban Team

YMCA to sell downtown facility to local developer to redeploy funds

The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington plans to sell its National Capital facility at 1711 Rhode Island Ave. NW

The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington has reached a deal to sell its facility in downtown D.C. to Akridge and shutter the property at the end of the year.

The move follows a capital improvement project that failed to boost membership.

The YMCA's board voted Thursday to enter into a purchase agreement to sell the property, at 1711 Rhode Island Ave. NW, just west of Scott Circle. It was a difficult choice board Chairman Keith Smith said was in the best interest of the organization's wider mission.

"This was not an easy decision, but as a nonprofit organization with limited resources, the YMCA must continually evaluate community needs against available resources to strike the right balance in fulfilling our mission," Smith said in a statement. "Our buildings may house us, but they do not define us. We have a tremendous opportunity to grow and broaden our reach, but in order to do so, we have to establish more appropriate and efficient models for service delivery."

The YMCA did not disclose the proposed sale price or future plans for the facility once the YMCA shuts down operations there Dec. 31. YMCA spokeswoman Jackie Dilworth said the organization explored a range of options, including remaining at the site as part of a mixed-use development, but ultimately determined there just was not enough demand for the YMCA's services to maintain a presence at the location. Going forward, she said, the nonprofit is working with CSG Urban Partners to explore whether there are other neighborhoods in the District where its services might be in more demand.

"We're really just trying to figure out where we're needed the most," she said.

The Rhode Island facility employs between 80 and 100 people, and she said the organization will focus its efforts immediately on trying to find jobs for as many of those employees at other YMCA locations in the region. The property, assessed at $23.2 million, is about halfway between Connecticut Avenue NW and Scott Circle NW along Rhode Island Avenue. It's adjacent to 1717 Rhode Island Ave. NW, the office building where Uber plans to shift its East Coast headquarters, and across the street from D.C.-based Akridge's new trophy building at 1200 17th St. NW.

The YMCA's National Capital outpost has operated in that space for the past 37 years but has seen its membership decline from a peak of 11,000 to 3,400. It spent about $1.5 million in capital improvements in hopes of reversing that trend but, "because the investments necessarily addressed inefficiencies of the facility and not aesthetics, they did not spur growth," the YMCA said in a news release.

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