YMCA to add second Downtown site

Plans to open location this summer in basement of U.S. Steel Tower

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The YMCA is bulking up its Downtown presence.

This summer, the Downtown YMCA will open a second location in the U.S. Steel Tower on Grant Street, converting a basement auditorium into a 15,000-square-foot fitness and wellness space.

The new location, announced by the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh during a donor appreciation event yesterday evening, marks another major move by the Y to expand its presence Downtown.

It follows the decision by the Y last May to sell its Boulevard of the Allies building and open a new facility in the old G.C. Murphy store as part of Millcraft Industries' $32 million Market Square Place project.

At the U.S. Steel Tower, the Downtown Y will team with UPMC, which is moving its headquarters into the city's tallest skyscraper, to operate a wellness center.

The new location will give the Y a presence close to city, Allegheny County and federal courts and government offices and many of the region's major corporations, including The Bank of New York Mellon and, of course, U.S. Steel. The branch also will be close to the Steel Plaza light-rail stop.

One of the goals is to get more people in the office buildings exercising, said John Cardone, executive director of the Downtown YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh.

Given the concentrated population, it "makes sense" to add the location, he said. The Y has found that people generally won't walk more than three blocks to an exercise program.

"If we can be in a good position to serve more people, in the end, it's going to make us healthier," Mr. Cardone said.

With UPMC, which will start moving in this spring, nearly 10,000 people will work in the U.S. Steel Tower alone.

"We're excited. This is something we tried to do for a long time. This is a great partner and it's going to be a tremendous amenity for the tenants of the building," said Andy Wisniewski, executive vice president of CB Richard Ellis and leasing agent for the property.

Mr. Cardone did not see the Grant Street location conflicting with the Y's new 38,000-square-foot facility in Market Square Place, which will open in early 2009. He said members will have access to both facilities and the same array of services.

Both sites will offer wellness facilities and cardiovascular and strength equipment and a number of classes and services, including smoke cessation, nutrition, obesity, weight management, physical therapy, and cardiac rehabilitation. Both will support Activate Pittsburgh programming.

The Market Square Y will have a pool; U.S. Steel Tower won't.

Cost of renovating the U.S. Steel Tower space will be "significant," Mr. Cardone said, without giving an amount. He said costs would be shared between the Y and other partners.

Based on statistical benchmarks, he estimated that less than 10 percent of people who work in the U.S. Steel Tower and nearby locations are exercising.

He believes the Y could end up adding as many as 1,000 new members through the location. He expects to double current membership, some 2,000 to 2,500 strong, once the new facility opens in Market Square. The Y will close its Boulevard of the Allies location once the Market Square building opens.


Mark Belko can be reached at mbelko@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1262.


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