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New downtown YMCA exceeds traffic expectations in January
[February 06, 2013]

New downtown YMCA exceeds traffic expectations in January

Feb 06, 2013 (The Wichita Eagle - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The new downtown YMCA served 60,000 visitors in January, YMCA officials said.

They opened the new facility in December, and set what they thought was an ambitious goal: "When we opened, the goal was 45,000 visits a month," said Shelly Conrady, a YMCA spokeswoman. "So we're exceeding expectations." The 60,000 recorded visits does not include the free visits given out to needy people, Conrady said.

The old building at Third and Market, which workers began knocking down on Monday, served about 850 people a day, she said. The new building is serving about 2,000.

Watching the old building begin to come down on Monday was emotionally moving for some longtime YMCA employees, she said. The building had been a fixture in downtown for 54 years. To mark the occasion, YMCA officials compiled a small history of the building to release to the community: --The former Central YMCA was the third YMCA building in downtown Wichita, and served the community for more than 50 years.

--It replaced another 50-year-old YMCA that opened in 1908 at First and Emporia and has since been razed.

--The former Central YMCA opened in 1959 following 12 years of efforts to build a new Y.

--It was originally designed to have 10 stories that would have included seven floors for residences. The goal was to raise money to build the additional stories after it opened. But after hotels and motels became more commonplace, YMCA officials realized the residences were unnecessary. Remnants of the 10-story idea could be seen in the building--stairways on the 3rd floor that led to nowhere except the association's best laid intentions.

--Cost to build in 1959: $1.7 million --The building featured the state's first Olympic-sized indoor pool.

--At the time the former Central YMCA opened, the YMCA had about 15,000 members and 93% of them were male. Today the YMCA has more than 150,000 members and only 49% are male.

___ (c)2013 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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