The YMCA-YWCA building at 851 Broughton St. has been sold for $21.9 million. Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS

YMCA-YWCA eyes the future after selling downtown Victoria property

The Y to lease existing space for up to seven years while looking for new downtown home

Downtown Victoria’s YMCA-YWCA has sold its 851 Broughton St. location to Vancouver-based Concert Real Estate Corporation for $21.9 million.

Board members of the not-for-profit Y have been contemplating what to do with the aging building, which has been home to the organization’s health and fitness programs for over 50 years. The board determined the most cost-effective plan would be to sell the property and relocate, and the past year has been spent working with Colliers International to assess proposals.

Negotiations with the successful proponent Concert happened over the past few months.

“We’re delighted to have this piece of the process completed, and to have such a community-minded purchaser,” said board chair Christine Gleed. “It’s been a very long process to get to where we are now, so it’s really exciting.”

As part of the sale, the Y will still lease the Broughton Street space for up to seven years as they try to find a new location. Gleed said Concert has agreed to charge the organization a below-market rental rate during that time.

The Y has also made a deal with the City of Victoria to replace a covenant that was placed on the property in 1965, when the City donated a portion of the current site to the Y. Under the agreement, the Y will place $1.89 million with the City to secure their commitment to staying in the downtown core.

Once a new location has been established, the City will return the funds. If, however, the Y cannot find a new location within eight years, the City will keep the funding and use it towards a capital project related to recreation and wellness.

RELATED: City of Victoria lays groundwork for relationship with YMCA-YWCA

“The funding gives the City some assurance that we are as committed as we say we are to staying downtown,” Gleed said.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps applauded the announcement Wednesday.

“This is an exciting announcement for the resilience and renewal of Victoria’s downtown,” she said in a release. “The Y and the important services it provides contribute to our community’s health, well-being and inclusiveness. The renewal and evolution of the facility will support Victoria’s long-term sustainability.”

At this point, the Y board is not sure if they want to renovate an existing structure, or build something completely new, but they do know that they want to continue to meet the changing needs of a downtown Victoria population.

“One of our focuses is inclusiveness, particularly in a downtown location where people are in smaller spaces and might not have gathering spaces in their homes,” Gleed said. “We want to look at how we can create a welcoming space that creates a sense of community from all parts of the city.”

The Broughton location currently sees approximately 600,000 visitors per year, with an average of up to 9,000 membership holders.

In the meantime, programs at the Y will run as usual.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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