FORT WORTH — The YMCA of Metropolitan Fort Worth launched a $10.6 million capital campaign Thursday for construction of a larger southeast Fort Worth facility on Mitchell Boulevard in the Renaissance Square development.With the assistance of 18 preschoolers from the nearby McDonald Southeast YMCA, who released balloons, YMCA officials joined community and civic leaders for a dedication ceremony to announce the fundraiser and unveil signs for the long-anticipated project.In July, the Y executed a three-year option to buy about 7 acres on Mitchell Boulevard, just south of Berry Street, for the new facility.“This is going to a magnificent facility,” said Tony Shuman, the YMCA’s president and chief executive officer. Shuman said the organization will raise money through 2015 and expects to start construction on a 35,000-square-foot building with a pool in early 2016. It would be ready in 2017. Planning for a new facility began about five years ago when the Y looked at how it could better serve southeast Fort Worth, he said.At one time, the YMCA had two facilities in southeast Fort Worth. It currently serves about 1,000 individuals, but hopes to expand to more than 4,000 at the new facility. Some of the money raised will be used to make improvements at Camp Carter and at athletic fields off of Altamesa Boulevard in south Fort Worth, Shuman said.“We had some participation at each facility, but lots of capacity,” Shuman said. “We weren’t serving enough people in southeast Fort Worth. What we heard over and over again was we had two halves, but no whole.” The new facility will feature a gymnasium, preschool, demonstration kitchen, community meeting rooms and a community garden, among other things. The city has said it will likely fund the construction of a community pool, which Shuman said “will make this building and this impact of this building even greater than if we could do it by ourselves.” The city’s aquatics master plan calls for a site in southeast Fort Worth. Susan Alanis, assistant city manager, said the City Council will begin looking for an estimated $2 million to build the pool, which will be operated by the YMCA.The project, next to Mitchell Boulevard Elementary school, has received a $1 million commitment from the Amon G. Carter Foundation, which has supported the YMCA for more than 90 years, said its executive vice president John Robinson.“This new branch is going to do everything the YMCA has learned to do well,” Robinson said. “This location here in the Renaissance Square development is the right location.”Councilwoman Kelly Allen Gray, whose district includes Mason Heights, said, “The YMCA is an integral part of every purpose-built community project. It does my heart good to see that we are wrapping a lot of services and a lot of attention around the YMCA.”The YMCA has served southeast Fort Worth since 1971, when it opened the former McDonald YMCA at 2400 E. Berry St., a 14,000-square-foot facility that was closed in December. The services were consolidated into the Southeast YMCA at 2801 Miller Ave., a 15,220-square-foot center that opened in 1991. The merged facility is called the McDonald Southeast YMCA. It will be sold when the new center is opened.The YMCA has the former McDonald YMCA on Berry Street on the market. It had hoped to sell the property a year ago to a developer that planned 200 apartments. That deal fell through after the City Council denied rezoning the property to include multifamily development. The land the YMCA wants to buy is being sold by FW Mason Heights LP, the group headed by Happy Baggett that purchased the 197-acre Masonic Home site and later sold 67 acres for what became the Walmart-anchored Renaissance Square shopping center. The other side of the development is called Mason Heights and includes planned residential, medical, office and other uses, including the Y.ACH Child and Family Services and Uplift Education are located in Mason Heights.
Sandra Baker, 817-390-7727 Twitter: @SandraBakerFWST