This is a punch in the gut for the University District, which had seen some hope with the demolition of Highland Street Church of Christ, a sign that construction will eventually begin on Highland Row.The Mason YMCA will close on December 31, 2011.Our Metro Board of Directors made the decision after commissioning a comprehensive study by A2H & Associates of the building's maintenance and repair needs. It was determined that renovations would cost approximately $2.6 million to complete these repairs, plus another $2-3 million to bring the facility to contemporary Y standards."Because the Mason Y has been a Memphis institution for more than five decades, this is a particularly tough decision, yet it is one that is prudent for maintaining the financial health of the overall YMCA of Memphis and Mid-South," says Keith Johnson, President & CEO.Mason Y patrons are members of our entire YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South system, so they can attend any of the other eight Ys located throughout the city.One of the strengths of the Mason Y is its community development programs that have been such an integral part of our mission, programs such as English as a Second Language, Conversational Spanish and Multi-Cultural Achievers College Readiness, as well as other Y fitness and wellness programs.We want to assure you that we remain committed to these programs and will offer them in the community and integrate them into other branches so that they continue to be accessible to those who enjoy them.We are pleased that the Mason Y has been successful in engaging the Latino community and will continue to be committed to multi-cultural programming through other branches.Our roots are very deep in the community surrounding the Mason Y and we have worked hard to provide services and programs that are meaningful and contribute to the greater good of the neighborhood."We regret that it is too costly to maintain upkeep and operations of this building, but we will remain dedicated to providing community outreach and fitness programs that will be accessible through other branches," said Johnson. "For the good of the neighborhood as well as the YMCA, we hope that suitable developers can be found who will make the highest and best use of the real estate while complementing the neighborhood's needs and environment."Please don't hesitate to call us at any of our branches if you have questions and we assure you that the great traditions of the Mason Y will continue to build strong communities throughout Memphis and the Mid-South.
This, however, removes an institution of a half-century for the area. As a former member, this leaves a gaping hole in the neighborhood, and I would rather they had built a new facility than leave it completely. Additionally, this means there are NO YMCA facilities within the 240 loop. Like so many of the churches in Memphis, the YMCA has abandoned the inner city, except for the Downtown Y. It is a sad day for Memphis.