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Riverside YMCA applies brakes on new site

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The Times-Union

The Yates Family YMCA plans to continue upgrading its valuable riverfront property on Riverside Avenue for the next three years while looking for a new site, a YMCA official said Tuesday.

Paul McEntire, president and chief operating officer of the YMCA of Florida's First Coast, said the executive committee decided in November to create a three-year improvement plan while relocation plans are on hold.

"We just have not been able to locate a property that was suitable to put a like-facility on," he said. "We're still open to the idea [of relocating]. We know it's a valuable riverfront property."

In 2003, YMCA officials said they wanted to determine how much the 4.5-acre property was worth and how long it would take to redevelop or relocate its 50-year-old facility. The YMCA is considering building a new $10 million, 60,000-square-foot facility.

The neighboring St. Joe Co. or The Haskell Co., were initially involved in the relocations project, but Haskell subsequently dropped out.

On Tuesday, St. Joe Co.'s vice president of development, Michael Shalley, said the project is at a standstill because St. Joe and YMCA officials couldn't find a mutually beneficial alternative.

"The reality is we don't have any plan we're working on for them. We both backed off," he said. "We looked at all types of opportunities and options and none of them worked out. We're still open to talking."

St. Joe, a real estate company and Florida's largest landowner, has its headquarters next door to the Yates YMCA.

McEntire said YMCA officials want a new facility because the existing building is inefficiently designed and its systems are outdated.

The Yates Family YMCA land's price could range from $26 to $40 a square foot. At $40 a square foot, the figure could approach $9 million, Y officials have said.

Downtown properties along the St. Johns River, including Brooklyn, have sold for as much as $65 a square foot, commercial real estate brokers have said.

Last year, Fidelity National Financial Inc. paid nearly $12 million for 5.9 riverfront acres near its Riverside Avenue headquarters. The sale price was a market indicator, McEntire said Tuesday.

"It certainly got our attention. It sets the value," he said.

christopher.calnanjacksonville.com, (904) 359-4404

This story can be found on Jacksonville.com at http://www.jacksonville.com/tu-online/stor..._17723632.shtml.

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I certainly agree that the building is inefficiently designed. I almost get lost every time i go in there. I agree also that the building is an eyesore, but it offers one of the best views in town.

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I hope they can relocate to a nice facility.  I guess we'll have to wait.  That valuable riverfront property is kinda being wasted by that ugly building.


How about somewhere closer to downtown? It would be nice to have the YMCA move into one of the abandoned buildings on West Adams or West Beaver Street. That would be neat.

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There already is a smaller one in the Bank of America Tower.

I agree, I'd like to see them off the river, but we will have to wait...

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