Local developer and construction consultant Mike De Vries laid the groundwork last week that helped the Downtown Development Authority make a decision that turned out to be vital for one of the city’s key nonprofit agencies.
“We have an opportunity to help an organization that helps others when they need it the most,” he said.
De Vries was speaking of the YWCA, which wants to renovate its longtime headquarters at 25 Sheldon Blvd. SE to the tune of $4.3 million.
“We’re looking at redoing the building, particularly the lower level,” said De Vries, whose firm, De Vries Companies, is managing the project. “Barrier-free updates are going to be done.”
The YWCA has been at its current location since 1922. The renovation work will involve restoring the façade, redesigning the lower-level pool and locker room, and renovating the upper-level meeting and administrative rooms. When finished, the work will make operations more efficient and allow the YWCA to expand its crisis services.
“We are going for LEED certification at this point. We are shooting for Silver,” said Tom Nemitz, president of Cornerstone Architects, which is designing the renovation.
The YWCA has raised most of the $4.3 million for the project; it came to the DDA asking for two grants totaling $94,500, and the board unanimously complied with the requests.
The first grant, for $75,000, is for building reuse to help with the barrier-free work and sustainable improvements that will be made to the structure. The grant includes an additional $25,000 that can be used to obtain LEED certification. The second is a $19,500 grant to assist with streetscape upgrades, including a new sidewalk and new trees.
DDA Project Manager Tim Kelly told the board the funds to help the YWCA secure a Silver LEED have to come from non-tax revenue because the organization is a nonprofit. But he acknowledged the agency’s requests were consistent with both grant programs.
“The building is not able to support their current operations,” said Kelly.
The YWCA is located near the southwest corner of Sheldon and Fulton Street. It’s not far from where Brookstone Capital has plans to build an approximately $40 million apartment complex at 20 E. Fulton St. and the DDA’s renovations of the Veterans and Monument parks along Fulton Street.
“The improvements being proposed at the YWCA will further catalyze the neighborhood,” said Kelly, “and will also provide an additional five full-time jobs for the community.”