YMCA plans to buy Trinity Lutheran property

The White Rock YMCA has submitted a letter of intent to buy the Trinity Lutheran property on Gaston at Loving, with plans to build a new Y there.

The current YMCA building on Gaston is under contract to an undisclosed buyer, says Derek Smith, the neighborhood YMCA’s executive director.

The Trinity Lutheran property has been on the market since the church closed in 2006. Several developers have pitched redevelopment since then. Those included a nursing home, a dense residential development and a green-focused residential development.

All of those ideas have met with resistance from neighbors concerned with increased traffic and how such projects could affect their property values.

Derek Smith says he has been meeting with neighbors for the past week, and for the most part, “folks really seem to be in favor of this.” 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.

The 3.25-acre property is listed at $2.1 million, and plans for a new Y are in the early planning stages. Smith couldn’t say how much a new building would cost or how big it would be. That will depend on how much money the Y’s board and partners wish to raise.

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The Y expects to submit zoning changes via a Planned Development District proposal to the Plan Commission no later than Monday. The changes include a parking variance that would 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.

If the Y’s plan for the former church property should fall through, it can get out of its contract with the buyer, which is expected to be final in the next three months. While the building project is underway, the Y would lease back its current building at virtually no cost. Smith says the same buyer also is negotiating with the owner of the Far West Club and OK Sports Bar, which has been under fire from neighbors and the TABC, to buy its space as well. The YMCA owns its part of the building outright, and the owner of Far West owns the other portion.

The YMCA would like to get its case before the Plan Commission in April, and if all goes as planned, they would build in 2014.

So far, there are few details to the plan, but Craig Reynolds, the Lakewood resident who is overseeing the renovations at Woodrow Wilson High School, is the architect. The White Rock YMCA has been in three locations since the 1950s, but it has never had its own custom-built space.

“We want to build something that’s going to fit into East Dallas,” Smith says.

The new Y building would be closer to Gaston than the current church building, he 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.

“We don’t want it to feel very commercial right there on Gaston,” he says.

The YMCA’s next neighborhood meeting is with the Lakewood Hills Neighborhood Association on Tuesday, March 20.

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  • Tonto52

    If you will note the “point” in my previous posting, the main concern with a new Y is traffic related, and with only 2 entrances, pushing the traffic back into the neighborhood.  The “senior commuminty” that you mentioned was actually a skilled nursing hospital, and I believe at the time (6 years ago) they were anticipating “250” employees and there was concerns about emergency related traffic.  There was not much concern from that developer about minimizing parking, saving trees, or being neighborhood friendly.  The property is zoned single family, detatched, and that will never happen due to the current price of the property.   The Y is attempting to minimize parking, save many trees, design a building that looks like “East Dallas”.  Some new neighbors envision walking out of their homes at 5:30am and working out at the new Y.  This has been reported to be a “3-way” deal with a developer committing to buy the 2 main properties at the current Y location (and reported to be the adjacent Far West, but check) .  So many rumors are going around about the “Far West” property that this needs to be confirmed by others.  This could be an answer to the Far West concerns.

  • Blockbuster2004

    I am surprised that the neighbor is on board with this. Several years ago, there was some interest from a senior community to take over the place. The guy I talked to then said, the neighborhood did not want it because they were afraid that there would be too much traffic. I think a Y will have significantly more traffic than that senior center ever thought of.  It would be nice something could be done with the Far West group. I lived in apartment that faced the street and I was just waiting for gunshots I heard across the street to come through my windows just like cars that seemed to find their way in to people’s mailboxes, the gate around the country club and the side of the salon at Richmond and Abrams. One thing could have been done to curb Far West, more police presence, In the 4 years I lived there I rarely ever saw any police. With as many drunk people peeling out of the parking lot after shooting their guns, it seems like they were needed there.  

  • Anonymous

    It now appears that the Masterplan and Y site plan has been filed at the City.  For those that actually live within the area and along Casa Loma you need to be aware of the street access and review the plat carefully.  The two proposed entrances are positioned along Gaston (as expected), but the other access is positioned in the back, on Loving Avenue, pushing the traffic back on to Casa Loma and into the neighborhood!  They are now expecting 906 daily trips into the property, divided between Gaston and the rear Loving entrance. It has been noted that some “Clayton” residents are pushing to close the long term Clayton Avenue access.  Previous uses of the property included a long standing church, a small private school, so a neighborhood friendly Y would make sense if it incorporates a neghborhood friendly design and traffic plan.

  • Grueneman

    Who cares? Go another block to access the trail.  That proposed trailhead was primarily to benefit the Y, not the neighbors.

  • Eastdalgal

    Not too long ago, Far West was leasing that space but did not own it. (I believe the owners first name was Lou a few years ago when a developer named Miller was looking to so something with the property.) Do the Far West owners now own it? DCAD lists owner/business name … not sure if that means either/or. Would appreciate clarification from those in the know.

  • Lakewood Hills

    The neighborhood association meeting will be at the Lakewood Presbyterian Church at 7:00 p..m. and all neighbors from the surrounding neighborhoods are welcome to attend if they have questions about the plans. 

  • Thanks for explaining that.

  • Anonymous

    The White Rock/ Lake Highlands Y moved to Grenville Ave and dropped “White Rock”. The current WRYMCA is the old East Dallas Y. So it’s a diferent Y in the eyes of the organization.

    (had a part time job there when they went through the moves)

  • Aren, the YMCA you’re talking about is no longer a YMCA. It was built as the original White Rock Y, which I believe was officially merged into the Lake Highlands Y on Greenville.

  • We don’t even know who the buyer is yet, much less what they might build there.

  • I don’t know. I think that’s the Lake Highlands YMCA? This is the White Rock YMCA, on Gaston near Garland/Grand.

  • “it has never had its own custom-built space”

    So the old YMCA building on Lochwood, by the Garland/Jupiter Home Depot, was not built for YMCA?

  • stuart

    How would this affect the plans to build a new trail head for the Santa Fe trail from the YMCA parking lot?  What are the buyers planning to build there?