YMCA continuing call center discussions

The former Concentrix call center on Arsenal Street may serve as the home for the Watertown YMCA’s new community center. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The Watertown YMCA on Thursday continued discussions about possibly purchasing part of the former Concentrix call center for its new community center.

Organization CEO Denise K. Young met with representatives of the facility owner, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency, to further discuss a prospective deal in executive session. The former call center on Arsenal Street is one location the organization has considered for its $16 million aquatics, racquet sport and wellness center.

Kent D. Burto, who chairs the committee tasked with assessing possible uses for the property, said the talks involved Mrs. Young and agency representatives answering each others questions, particularly regarding matters of logistics associated with the prospective deal. Mrs. Young said the YMCA and JCIDA continue to discuss the particulars of a possible deal.

“We’re still looking into all of the possibilities for that site,” she said. “It has all the right stuff. It has great parking. It takes a community asset and builds upon it.”

Both organizations met in October when they discussed possible purchase price figures and the preliminary implications the community center would have for the space and downtown, although no agreement was reached. If a deal was struck, the YMCA would purchase 55,000 square feet of the 76,000-square-foot space, particularly on the side facing Arsenal Street.

The call center is not the only location the organization considered as a possible home for its new community center. There was talk of the YMCA evaluating the old Mercy Hospital site.

“Until we’re certain, we have to continue to consider all options,” Mrs. Young said, “any space that we could fit in the downtown footprint.”

The community center, whether the YMCA builds it in the former home of Concentrix or another location, will consist of a six-lane lap pool, a separate full-size recreational pool, a full-service wellness center, an arts/multipurpose room, two indoor tennis courts and a running/walking track.

The YMCA previously mulled over locating its community center in the former Medical Arts Building on Clinton Street, but decided against it after discovering the property would disqualify it from two important funding sources: the federal Opportunity Zones and the New Market tax credit programs. Both involve providing tax incentives for projects in low-income urban and renewal communities. The Concentric property, however, would allow the YMCA access to both credit programs.

The project has received $2.133 million from the state’s Consolidated Funding Application program. In addition to the tax credits and grant, Mrs. Young said the YMCA plans to launch a capital campaign to help finance the new center.

“We’ll have to take on some debt, we know that,” Mrs. Young said. “We will look at other grant funding as well.”

Mr. Burto said the committee he chairs will continue exploring options for the building, particularly whether the JCIDA should sell all or part of the building to any prospective buyer.

“We’re trying to get something that works out for everyone,” he said.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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