Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Commission OKs Plan for New YMCA Downtown

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Commission OKs Plan for New YMCA Downtown

Article excerpt

Construction could begin as early as late April or mid-May on a new downtown Tuscaloosa YMCA facility.

On Monday, the city's Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended for approval the building plans for the YMCA of Tuscaloosa's $3 million first phase.

The YMCA's overall goal calls for a nearly $5 million total investment with a new wellness center, a gym and its assorted amenities like locker rooms and exercise areas as well as staff offices. The new YMCA will be built on the vacant lot behind the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education central office.

But a new swimming pool and basketball gymnasium will be part of separate $1 million projects to be completed later.

"As many people will tell you, this is a long time coming," said YMCA of Tuscaloosa CEO Walt Larisey. "We're building a new YMCA to last another 100 years."

In addition to the new building, the YMCA is constructing a 1/2- acre open-field recreational area under the lease agreement with the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority.

In 2013, Larisey and PARA Executive Director Gary Minor signed a sublease agreement that committed the YMCA to a $1-per-month lease payment for 99 years. The arrangement also allows PARA to operate a small park on the north side of the tract.

With the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation, this project now moves to the City Council, which also must give its approval under the guidelines of the Downtown Riverfront Overlay District.

But if the commission's swift approval of these plans is any indication, the project likely will not be met with resistance by the council.

"We're very excited about the future for our residents and our youth," said Planning and Zoning Commission vice-chairman Steven Rumsey. "Congratulations on bringing it to fruition."

The same level of acceptance same could not be said for a proposed Residence Inn on Rice Mine Loop Road.

The proposed hotel would be on a site just to the southeast of the new Church of the Highlands, which is under construction. The developers were seeking approval of a planned unit development that would allow for the hotel that is expected to have from 108 to 111 rooms

This request was continued until next month's meeting at the recommendation of the commission. …

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