YMCA expanding

NEGAUNEE – The YMCA of Marquette County is continuing to expand. Just weeks after announcing receipt of a $2.99 million loan package that will facilitate the expansion of the Marquette facility, YMCA leadership today said the organization will invest about $800,000 to relocate and expand the Negaunee YMCA.

The west end YMCA will move from its current location, but will remain on Iron Street, taking up residence in the Range Bank building at 350 Iron St.

“I think it’s going to be a considerable improvement for our organization to be in this new facility,” said Lisa Coombs-Gerou, CEO of the YMCA of Marquette County. “It will be designed specifically for what our purposes are.”

She said the move is about three years in the making, as a task force of YMCA board members and staff has been looking at needs and searching for the best long-term strategy for the west end.

“This came to us out of the blue,” Coombs-Gerou said of the Range Bank move. “It wasn’t on the radar screen and when it was offered to us it was like ‘Oh my gosh. Let’s really take a hard look at this and see if the numbers can work.'”

They did.

The YMCA will pay about $295,000 to purchase the bank building – a structure Coombs-Gerou said is valued at about $1 million – and will spend roughly $500,000 renovating the facility. Range Bank will finance the transaction and the YMCA’s new mortgage payment will be similar to the organization’s current rent, according to officials.

The YMCA has given a six-month notice to its landlord for the current facility, located in the downtown Negaunee Center, and Coombs-Gerou said the new facility should open Jan. 1.

The renovated bank space – roughly twice the size of the current west end YMCA – will be home to a wellness center, locker rooms and showers, a childcare area and a reception center, as well as rooms specifically dedicated to aerobics, bouldering and youth activities.

The 1,200 members of the Negaunee facility have been invited to a planning session Tuesday night, where they will be able to view plans and give input for the future facility. Coombs-Gerou said there were about five options on the table, but said the Range Bank building is by far the best choice.

“This is the most cost-effective, the most long-term strategic location and it’s what the members really wanted to see, so we’re excited about it,” she said.

Jack Frost, Range Bank’s vice president and chief financial officer, said the bank has already moved teller operations from the downtown Negaunee branch to the new branch at 601 U.S. 41.

Soon, he said, administrative and other office work will shift to the newest Range Bank location, set to open in the iEconomy Building, located at 100 N. Front St. in Marquette.

“We’re going to move to downtown Front Street, and that’s going to happen in August or the beginning of September,” Frost said.

He said Range needed to expand, as the bank was “basically out of space,” and added that company officials are excited to see the YMCA taking over the downtown facility.

City officials are also pleased to see the organization expanding in town.

“It’s a wonderful partnership,” Negaunee City Manager Jeff Thorton said. “We like to see the Y here and it offers a great resource to our community for physical activity and other activities.”

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.