The Capital District YMCA plans to open a new health and wellness center in Albany’s growing Park South neighborhood in February.
Capital District YMCA President David Brown says the 9,400-square foot boutique gym will offer a blend of traditional equipment, group classes, and high intensity training. Showing off the new space near Albany Medical Center Tuesday, Brown says 17 New Scotland Avenue was chosen for its central location and easy access to public transportation.
“And I know you’re used to seeing a big Y on a corner with a gym, and a pool, and a running track. But what we’re doing is we’re introducing a new model to this community, where we’re taking the Y to where people are," Brown explains. "But we’ll be working with our partners to bring youth programs and other things that will be transformational for this community.”
Those partners include Albany City School District, Albany Leadership High School for Girls, Menands School – and now nearby Green Tech High School, which started hosting Saturday night “Teen Nights” and other YMCA youth development programs in September. Green Tech Principal and CEO Dr. Paul Miller credits Teen Night with giving teens a safe place to play, socialize, and otherwise be kids on the weekend, and calls the YMCA partnership a no-brainer.
“If we have the space, it’s a shame not to use it and benefit kids…So our goal is to really bring [students] in and teach social justice, community activism – to do anything that we can," says Miller. "And a big part of Green Tech is service, so our kids have to do 100 hours of service to graduate. And when we do that, it’s not without important partnerships.”
Brown says plans for the new fitness center have been nearly 10 years in the making. In 2010, the YMCA closed its branch on Washington Avenue amid significant losses, and in August the nonprofit shuttered and sold its North Albany location to Albany City School District, which plans to use the space to expand North Albany Academy into a middle school. In Park South, the YMCA’s nearest competitor will likely be Whitehall Road’s Sidney Albert Albany Jewish Community Center, which said in a statement:
“The Sidney Albert Albany JCC welcomes the Capital District YMCA back to Albany. The Albany JCC has been serving the community for over 100 years. Building a strong community and providing support for the families and residents of Albany requires all of us to work together and we look forward to working collaboratively with the Y whenever possible."
Outside the new center, Brown says the YMCA is conducting a needs-assessment study with city and Albany County officials to determine its long-term goals.
“Make no mistake about it, we may have had to close a few buildings, we may have had to make some changes – but the YMCA is 100 percent committed to the city of Albany, and we never plan to leave it," says Brown. "We just plan to roll with the punches, and do the things in the best way that we can. The Y is not just a community center, but it’s the center of the community.”