YMCA Eyes Growth With Plans For New, Expanded Facilities

By Emma Dill, posted Apr 23, 2024
The YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina is laying the groundwork for future growth with a proposed rezoning for a new facility in northern New Hanover County. (Photo courtesy of YMCA)
The YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina is laying the groundwork for growth with a proposed rezoning for a new facility in northern New Hanover County.

The complex, which is proposed along Sidbury Road, is part of the YMCA’s efforts to ensure it’s adequately serving the area as its population grows and shifts, said Dick Jones, president and CEO of the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina.

“As we look really to tomorrow, and a few years beyond tomorrow, the northern part of New Hanover County is sort of the next frontier that appears to be experiencing some development and growth,” Jones said.

As part of their strategic planning efforts, local leaders identified northern New Hanover County as an area in need of a YMCA, Jones said. Now, a rezoning request for the proposed facility is set to go before the New Hanover County Planning Board early next month.  

The request looks to rezone 53 acres of a 242-acre tract on the north side of the 6600 block of Sidbury Road from a low-density residential district to a community business district – a designation that would allow for the construction of a YMCA. The rezoning will go before the county's planning board at its May 2 meeting. The request would then go before the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners for consideration.

The YMCA plans to use about half of the 53-acre parcel for its new facility and has a purchase agreement in place to buy the land, Jones said. But first, the land needs to be rezoned.

The proposed 25-plus-acre site will be more than double the size of the facilities at the Nir Family YMCA on Market Street and the Midtown YMCA off South 17th Street, which cover roughly 10 acres each, Jones said. 

As local YMCA leaders began looking at plans for the new facility, others in the organization recommended securing about 20 acres to accommodate the facilities and parking needed for a “full-service” complex.

“We may not have a building that occupies half of that 25 acres,” Jones said, “but soccer fields and outdoor spaces and pickleball courts and parking lots, walking trails and all of that is what’s envisioned in any new YMCA that’s built these days. Hence, the need to have a little more space than what we have currently on our other two campuses.” 

While Jones can’t say what specific amenities will be a part of the new facility, community input and feedback will play a key role in the planning process.

“It's a few years down the road, and so I don't want to say it’s gonna have X, Y or Z because it may change,” he said. “But all of the elements that you would find in a modern YMCA are part of our vision for that part of the community.”

The new complex will start to take shape over the next five to 10 years, Jones said.

“It really is a future plan, a future play if you will, to support that part of the growing county, both northern New Hanover County and southern Pender County,” he added.

Local YMCA leaders are also focused on investing in the organization's midtown location – a facility that opened in 2017 to help serve a growing population in the southern part of New Hanover County, Jones said. 

Since opening, the YMCA’s Midtown facility has partnered with Temple Baptist Church, managing and operating the Temple Baptist Activity Center at 709 George Anderson Drive. The YMCA purchased the site and building in a $3.5 million transaction last week, according to property records. 

The purchase will allow the organization to invest in the property and add more programs and facilities, Jones said.

“We're in the early stages of planning for a full-service YMCA in that location – full-service meaning it would have aquatics, it would have health and wellness space, childcare space, outdoor program space,” he said.

As the organization looks to the future, it continues to field requests for even more expansion into growing parts of the region, including Pender and Brunswick counties. 

“We get a lot of requests from Brunswick County residents, you know, ‘Come start a Y over here,’” Jones said. “I think probably Brunswick County might be the next part of our long-term vision in the next five, 10, 15 years.”
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