Even with 22 locations across the Big Apple, the YMCA of Greater New York has had room for significant growth. In Fall 2020, the New York YMCA is expected to complete a $100 million construction project to bring two brand new facilities to the Bronx.
“We’re really excited about this project,” said Elizabeth Toledo, the vice president of field operations for the New York YMCA. “Currently, there is only one YMCA within that entire borough, and this opening of two more Ys gives us the ideal location to service a lot more of the Bronx community, which we’ve been trying to do for almost 20 years.”
The La Central YMCA, located in the South Bronx, and the Northeast Bronx YMCA — each measuring roughly 50,000 square feet — will enable the New York YMCA to deliver more community wellness programs and services than ever to an area that desperately needs it.
“The Bronx is one of the poorest counties in all of New York, with high diabetes, high obesity and many other issues,” said Toledo. “There are signature programs we’ll have in all of our 24 branches, including after school, camp, diabetes prevention programs, classes for seniors, and fitness classes. So we’re really excited about being able to bring all these services to a borough that is in such need because of its dire socio-economic conditions.”
According to Toledo, this expansion is an essential component of the association’s mission. “The Y wants to have a footprint in all of New York City,” she said. “If you look at Brooklyn or Queens, for example, all of them have five to six different branches, but the Bronx has only had one in the entire lifespan we’ve been open. We’ve been talking about it, but either the funds weren’t there or the political support wasn’t there.”
Support from elected officials and community partnerships were essential in bringing this vision to life. The Northeast Bronx YMCA, one of the association’s few standalone facilities, got strong support from Carl Heastie, the Speaker of the New York State Assembly.
Meanwhile, the La Central YMCA was the cornerstone of a major development project in the South Bronx, which helped the facility during fundraising. “It’s a mixed-use development project — it’ll have retail space, community and outdoor recreation space, and 1,000 mixed income housing units on top of it and around it,” said Toledo.
With state-of-the-art design and an abundance of amenities — pools, meeting spaces, fitness floors, gymnasiums and much more — both facilities will bring the New York YMCA’s mission of community wellness to the Bronx in 2020.
It’s been a long road to this point, but the result will be well worth the wait. “We have been serving New Yorkers for over 150 years now, and we know the kind of programming we provide is essential,” said Toledo. “We want to be a hub to bring together different organizations and other non-profits, and help as much as we can with whatever the issues are.”