Design for New Downtown YMCA Would Keep Lyric Facade

Planned Downtown YMCA would retain front facade of historic Lyric Theater at 11th and Central and build new addition behind it. (BNIM)

By Kevin Collison

Backers of a planned Downtown YMCA that would incorporate the facade of the historic Lyric Theater as part of the $30 million project hope to wrap up fundraising this summer.

David Byrd, CEO of the YMCA, told the Downtown Council board Thursday that $21 million has been raised and anticipated the remaining funding would be lined up by this summer.

The latest design by BNIM architects for the facility was revealed. It calls for the front facade and historic lobby of the vacant theater building to be retained and an addition with pool, fitness center, indoor track and gym built behind it.

Planned Downtown YMCA would retain original lobby of historic Lyric Theater (BNIM)

Byrd said the original concept of renovating the entire theater to house the YMCA facilities and building a parking garage proved to costly, with donors also balking at paying for a garage.

Market studies indicate the new facility, which would take up to 2 ½ years to build, would attract 5,000 members and serve up to 15,000 people. In addition to the exercise facilities, the planned Downtown Y would serve as a major community center.

Downtown Kansas City has been without a YMCA since 1983.

“We’re the largest American city without a downtown YMCA,” Byrd said. “If we build it, they will come.”

There has been a smaller YMCA operating in the Quality Hill neighborhood of downtown. Byrd said that branch would close and its operations merged with the new Lyric facility.

He also said the YMCA wants to name the planned new facility after Phil Kirk, the late chairman of DST Realty, who led the early effort to support a downtown YMCA.

Central Street view of planned Downtown YMCA (BNIM)

This article appeared originally on the KCUR public radio website.