Decision on Virginia YMCA Put on Hold


The Virginia Supreme Court has delayed until January its ruling in the case of a proposed YMCA that has been challenged by for-profit club operators.

The Charlottesville Area Fitness Club Operators Association, which includes ACAC Fitness and Wellness Centers and Gold’s Gym, filed suit against the city of Charlottesville, VA, and Albemarle County, VA, in May 2010. The group claims that the city and county violated the Virginia Public Procurement Act, which requires the government to seek bids on projects. Instead, Albemarle County and the city of Charlottesville donated $2.03 million and $1.25 million, respectively, to the Piedmont Family YMCA, Charlottesville, to build a Y in a city park. Neither the city nor the county allowed bids from private clubs, the Charlottesville business group contends.

The city entered into a 40-year ground lease with the YMCA for $1 per year, but construction on the Y has not yet begun. The project will cost between $14 million, which Charlottesville TV station WVIR reported, and $16 million, according to a report by Charlottesville Tomorrow.

The earliest the court could issue an opinion in the case is Jan. 11. The 2007 lease for the 77,000-square-foot aquatic and fitness center in McIntire Park between the Y and the city of Charlottesville expires Jan. 15, the TV station reported. However, Kurt Krueger, chairman of the Piedmont Family YMCA, told local media that he expects to receive an extension for the ground lease.

A judge ruled in favor of the county in November 2010 and ruled in favor of the city in April 2011, but the case was appealed. The appeals process has taken the case all the way to the Virginia Supreme Court, which heard the case in June and originally planned to make a ruling this month.

Christine Thalwitz, director of communications and research for ACAC Fitness and Wellness Centers, speculated to Club Industry that the delay in the decision might be due to the court being in the process of writing the opinion.

“But we can’t say for certain,” Thalwitz adds.

In May, a year-round pool and fitness center opened at another city park operated by a non-profit organization, which entered into a partnership with the Piedmont Family YMCA to operate the facility. Kruger said he expected 500 memberships over the course of six months, but within one month, the facility generated 745 memberships. Krueger told the TV station that the higher-than-expected memberships at this facility is a sign that another Y is needed in the community.

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