YMCA’s new plan for southeast Fort Worth is a window of opportunity

Posted Monday, Aug. 26, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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To paraphrase an old adage, when someone closes a door on a grand plan, then maybe it’s time to open a window.

That’s what the YMCA Fort Worth decided to do last week. In June, the City Council had rejected a zoning change that was key to a proposal to combine two aging inner-city Y branches into one at a new southeast location in a major new mixed-use development.

The new plan now calls for a facility in the Mason Heights/Renaissance Square development that would merge the McDonald branch on East Berry Street with the Southeast branch on Miller Avenue.

Under the original plan, the YMCA would have sold the McDonald property — contingent on a zoning change to allow for apartments — to the developer of the Mason Heights/Renaissance project. An upscale 200-unit apartment complex was to be built on that site.

While some neighborhood leaders supported the zoning change, the pastor of a church across the street from the McDonald Branch Y and others (including the City Council member who represents the district) opposed it, mainly because the area has been plagued with large apartment complexes that eventually devolved into large swaths of blight.

Regardless of who was right on the zoning issue, the new combined Y is still needed, as it would serve many more people. It’s expected to help attract other health-related additions to Mason Heights/Renaissance Square.

The YMCA board opened the window by voting to consolidate the two southeast facilities at the Miller Avenue location for a while, sell the McDonald site and use the money to purchase property in the new development.

The Y will conduct a feasibility study on fund raising and, with board approval, will launch a capital campaign to pay for the building. While that process continues, portable buildings will be added to the Miller Avenue site to add after-school programs.

In addition, the Y will hold discussions with the city about partnering to build an aquatics center at the new facility.

As the city already has plans for an aquatics center southeast Fort Worth, it seems another window of opportunity is open.

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