The Rye Y had been looking for off-site expansion possibilities for some time, when the space formerly occupied by Mrs. Green’s at 1037 Boston Post Road became available in 2016. It was centrally located and only a five-minute walk from the Y (less if you’re a Rye Y fitness regular). It would give the Y another 10,000 square feet of needed space, an increase of 20 percent, and another 10,000 square feet on the lower level for future growing room.
In August 2018, the Y signed a lease, but the City approval process took until February 2020, when the pandemic shut down the best-laid plans.
It was with great pleasure, therefore, that Rye Y Executive Director Gregg Howells announced that the Y has signed a 20-year lease, with a 10-year renewal option, and will begin construction of The Studios at the Rye YMCA later this summer.
“The pandemic gave us plenty of time to reflect on whether what we had hoped to build would meet critical needs,” said Howells in a recent interview in his office at 21 Locust Avenue. “We rescoped the project after receiving feedback from a feasibility study. Parents hoped the Y would be able to add pre-school care. Members emphasized their growing interest in health and wellness programs and activities.”
The Y listened to its members, one of its core competencies.
Howells continued, “The underlying impetus is: What are the lessons learned? We have seniors, some of whom were the first to return to the Y for classes, especially water exercise classes, who want to meet in small groups. All ages wanted a lobby where they could lounge and connect.
“Members like flexibility. Many have added virtual classes to their workout program and want to be able to continue hybrid classes, but at the Y. They hoped we would put the studios under one roof. We took all that and more into consideration as we redrew the plan.”
The result is The Y Studios will include four distinct studios: Group Exercise studio, Yoga, a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), and Indoor Cycling. There will also be an inviting lobby to relax in, as well as dedicated space for community meetings, disease prevention classes, and cooking and nutrition demonstrations. Childcare will be on-site and available to members working out or taking classes.
Moving many of these functions to the new space, which Howells said would be ready in early 2022, frees up space at 21 Locust Avenue. “We have already started reconfiguring and repurposing rooms in order to create an Early Learning Center that will provide full-day licensed childcare for ages 18 months to 5.” The Y already has a successful afterschool program for grades K-6.
Howells, who has been at the helm for over 20 years, remarked that the Y’s last expansion was in 2003. The world has changed enormously since then and the Y is ever-changing to keep one step ahead.
- Robin Jovanovich
In conjunction with the Rye Y’s announcement of its expansion, the organization has launched “Growing Stronger Together”, a capital campaign to raise $1.1 million for the $1.6 million project.
“Opening a second facility will create unprecedented opportunities for community health, wellness, and social connections,” remarked Executive Director Gregg Howells. “And our new Early Learning Center for toddlers and preschoolers will give working parents a safe, reliable and affordable option for critically-needed full-day childcare. We’re very excited about these linked projects.”
To date, the Y has raised nearly $900,000 in pledges from its board of directors, trustees, and community members. “We’re so grateful for the generous support we’ve received so far,” stated campaign chair Caroline Scully. “We invite others to invest in this new chapter for the Rye Y, at whatever level they can.”
One way to support The Studios at the Rye YMCA and the Early Learning Center is to purchase a personalized tile, which will be displayed on a donor wall in the new building. For more information on ways to give, visit https://ryeymca.org/capital-campaign or contact Susan Olson, Development Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.