Since Trinity Lutheran Church closed in 2006, several real estate developers have pitched ideas for the $2.1-million, 3.25-acre property. Neighbors resisted plans for a nursing home and then a dense residential development, neither of which made it through the City Plan Commission.
But homeowners are warming up to a plan to build a new White Rock YMCA on the former church site on Gaston at Loving. The current YMCA building on Gaston is under contract to an undisclosed buyer, says Derek Smith, the neighborhood YMCA’s executive director. And the Y submitted a preliminary plan for the new facility to the City Plan Commission in March.
About 180 of the YMCA’s 1,600 family and single memberships belong to residents in the neighborhood adjacent to the church property, Smith says. A few neighbors are concerned about increased traffic on Loving, says Lakewood Hills Neighborhood Association president Stewart Cockrell.
“Most of what I’m hearing is that kids could walk to the YMCA and not have to cross Gaston,” he says. “We’re pretty excited about having a brand-new, state-of-the-art YMCA.”
The White Rock YMCA has been in three locations since the 1950s, but it has never had its own custom-built space. Fundraising and the wishes of the board will determine how big the new Y would be and what facilities it would have. So far, there are few details to the plan, but Lakewood resident Craig Reynolds would be the architect.
The new Y building would be closer to Gaston than the current church building, Smith says, but the plan is to preserve the park-like ambiance of the lot. He wants it to fit in with the neighborhood and offer a “front yard” space where neighbors could picnic or hang out.
The Y is seeking a parking variance for the planned building to allow about 115 parking spaces. The current Y comprises about 42,000 square feet. A building that size is required to have more than 200 parking spaces under city zoning regulations, but Smith says they actually use far fewer.
The YMCA would like to get its case before the Plan Commission this month, and if all goes as planned, they could build next year, and a new YMCA could open in 2014.
The YMCA has hired an arborist to advise on preserving old trees on the church property, and Smith says they’re working to address neighbors’ concerns with traffic.
“They’re really impressed me with how much they want the neighborhood’s opinion, and how much we’ve been involved in the process,” Cockrell says. “They’ve wanted us to be involved in every step of the way.”