The Garden Ranch Y in central Colorado Springs is shutting its doors for good, a permanent end to what once was believed would be a brief adjustment because of the coronavirus.
The facility announced what it thought would be a temporary closure in mid-March at the start of the pandemic. But after months of shutdown, the region’s YMCA leadership decided to close it because of the financial burden it posed, YMCA spokeswoman Theresa Johnson said.
“Unfortunately, like many other organizations, we took a hit,” Johnson said.
The Garden Ranch YMCA was in a tough financial spot before the pandemic, struggling with low membership and unable to locate $10-$12 million needed to renovate and upgrade the 38-year-old building.
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Some renovations had been done to the swimming pool last year, Johnson said, but the Y also required complete upgrades to its rooms, restrooms and other amenities.
And with just 970 memberships, the facility was well below the 3,000 typically needed to run a facility of comparable size, Brian Risley, the nonprofit’s metro board chairman, said in a video about the closing.
The COVID-19 shutdown proved to be the breaking point.
To keep other facilities in the region thriving, the closing was the right step for the nonprofit, said YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region President and CEO Boyd Williams.
“This is a difficult decision, but it’s my responsibility as the CEO to ensure the longevity of this association,” Williams said in the video. “Our Y has been through a lot since 1878, and we’re going to continue to serve the needs … but that will come with change.”
The building opened in 1984 and included a swimming pool, racquetball courts and a gymnasium, alongside other typical YMCA features like multipurpose and locker rooms, Johnson said. It also offered classes and was the site of birthday parties, much like other YMCA facilities in the region.
Johnson said she wasn’t sure why membership at the Garden Ranch location had fallen over the years, but speculated the city’s eastward growth may be one reason.
“The middle of town has shifted and we’re moving east,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of housing around the Garden Ranch facility and not a lot of room for new family growth.”
Williams and Johnson encouraged the Garden Ranch facility’s current members to join other Ys in the area with similar amenities and services, including the Briargate branch.
The Garden Ranch property will be sold and the revenue will be used to support capital improvements at other locations, Johnson said.
Some of the improvements on the organization’s horizon include building a new downtown Y facility at the corner of North Nevada and East Platte avenues that will include multiple stories of affordable housing, in addition to a full recreation center in the bottom of the building.
The Garden Ranch Y will continue to offer child care through the end of December, after which it will be shut down.