New Orleans YMCA to End its Operation of Facility in Algiers District

The West Bank YMCA at Federal City will continue to be run by the Y while a new operator is sought.

The YMCA of Greater New Orleans has notified the Algiers Development District (ADD) that it is pulling out as operator of the Federal City fitness center in the Algiers section of New Orleans.

In a joint statement, the two organizations promised that all essential employees will stay on to operate the center while the YMCA phases out its involvement. 

Kathy Lynn Honaker, the executive director at the development district, says she expects the transition to a new operator will be in place in 60 to 90 days. Meanwhile, the 900 individuals or families that are members of the club will be able to work out at the center without disruption.

The development district, which owns the fitness facility, is working with Vista Louisiana, the master developer of Federal City, to find a new operator for the center and has met with for-profit companies interested in running the facility.

"Three firms have expressed interest in operating the center," says Honaker.

The YMCA has operated the $6.1 million center since it opened in 2012. The development district renovated and expanded a former Navy gymnasium to create the fitness center. It is part of Federal City, a public-private mixed-use development situated on the former Naval Support Activity New Orleans. Providing a fitness center for the area was required as part of an agreement with the U.S. Navy that kept a military presence in the area.

Since that agreement, Honaker says, a Marine Corps Support Facility close to the Federal City Y has opened its own fitness facility, and membership at the Y has not been as popular as anticipated. The development district leased the Federal City center to the Y for $1 a year. Initially, there was a long-term lease, but in recent months, the Y was on a month-to-month lease.

The development district remains committed to providing a fitness center, not just for military personnel in the area, but for the Algiers district as a whole.

"We have a commitment to the community--the 58,000 people who live in Algiers," Honaker says. "We will have a smooth transition."

Part of that commitment is construction of a swimming pool that is underway. 

“We are continuing to enhance the facility with an expanded workout facility and heated pool due to open this summer,” she says. “We respect the YMCA’s decision and wish them nothing but the best of luck with their remaining locations that continue to run and operate in the Greater New Orleans area.”

The Algiers Development District is a special taxing district and has been designated as a local redevelopment authority for Federal City.

Gordon Wadge, president and CEO of the Greater New Orleans YMCA, issued this statement about the Y's decision to end its involvement in Federal City:

“While this was a difficult decision, it is one that is responsible. YMCA is discontinuing management of the Federal City facility. We regret not being a part of the Federal City development, but will be concentrating on operations at the three facilities we own in this area, our three locations in South Plaquemines operated in partnership with the Plaquemines Parish government, and our other outreach services.”

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