It’s closing time at the landmark downtown YMCA. The building is shutting its doors Friday night after six decades and moving members to a new facility about a block away.
“1985 was the year I started. It seems kind of like losing a friend I guess,” said Robert Gallegos, a 25-year-member of the YMCA.
Loyal members stuck around at the YMCA until closing.
“It feels like a gym, a good sweaty gym. It’s got everything,” said Mike Byrne.
John Egbert has been playing handball at the facility for 32 years. He stopped by one last time for a picture outside and to reflect on his first years as a member.
“There were no women allowed. People could smoke inside. Men were running around naked everywhere. It was really, really a different world in those days,” he said.
Women liked the building, too, for its character.
“It didn’t look like a gym you’d get anywhere else,” said Seema Gangatirkar.
But over time it was the building, and some equipment, that started falling apart.
“Unfortunately the cost to renovate the facility was so high. It was less expensive to build a new building and update it,” said Shannon Aubrey, director of membership operations at the new Tellepsen Family Downtown YMCA a block away.
Finishing touches are being put on the facility for a Monday opening. Masculinity has been traded for a modern style that’s gender neutral.
“There’s an indoor track on the 5th level. We have over 120 pieces of cardio equipment,” said Aubrey.
There are also lap and warm water therapy pools. For the first time, the downtown Y has a childcare center.
“We now can reach the younger population and serve the older population under one roof,” said Aubrey.
The walls are lined with history, including the Y logo that used to sit atop the old building. It’s been restored and is hanging in the gym.
I’m going to give it a shot for a couple months and see if I enjoy it as much as I did the old facility,” said Gallegos.
Gallegos adds he wishes longtime members had been able to give their input on the new facility.
The old building will be demolished, likely sometime in the Spring. Neighboring Chevron has bought the land. One thing the new location won’t have is residents. The 100 or so people who lived in the old building have all found new homes according to the YMCA.