Downtown YMCA being demolished (with video)WORTHINGTON — Some may refer to it as the “old armory building.” Others fondly call it the former “Y.”
WORTHINGTON — Some may refer to it as the “old armory building.” Others fondly call it the former “Y.”
Whatever name local residents have given to the structure, demolition of the building began Wednesday morning after 93 years of its downtown presence.
The demolition marks the beginning of a new city project that will encompass a community center with a senior-focused space. While a major part of the original building will be reconstructed, the 1980 gym, the racquetball court and basement will be retained.
“I don’t know if I want to look at it (demolition),” said former YMCA employee Wayne Klumper, a tinge of sadness in his voice.
The 1919 building housed the Worthington Area YMCA for 56 years before a new “Y” facility was built on the campus of Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
The portion of the building being demolished Wednesday used be the site of an implement dealer, Klumper noted.
“On the top of the (older) building was a Civil Defense tower during the Cold War. We had to make sure we kept our eyes out for enemy planes,” he said.
Klumper, who spent 32 years as the YMCA program director, remembered the many milestones achieved there by local youths.
“A lot of kids made their first attempt of swimming across the pool there, and a lot of kids made their first basket there,” he said. “Over the years, hopefully a lot of families had a good experience there.”
Working in an old building also meant that the building came with its fair share of challenges. Klumper said the difficulties ranged from major repair costs and heating problems to not having handicap accessibility.
“Grandmas and grandpas who wanted to watch their grandkids play basketball couldn’t get up there because of too many stairs,” he added.
With demolition under way, Worthington City Administrator Craig Clark said that the process of tearing down the structure will take between three to four weeks.
Due to higher-than-expected construction bids, city council members made a motion in September to split the project into two separate projects: demolition/environmental remediation and construction.
“We’re excited to see progress of future plans move forward,” Clark said.
The upcoming senior center will take up 2,880 square feet of the new building. It will include a kitchen for the senior dining program, offices and an auxiliary space.
Also new to the facility will be 23 parking stalls.