Downtown YMCA To Self-Destruct, Finally

Downtown YMCA, Houston

The 10-story brick YMCA on Louisiana St., which has been taking up valuable space Downtown for more than 65 years, will at last be torn down, reports Nancy Sarnoff in today’s Chronicle. The Y will move to a new glass-and-brick building now being designed by Kirksey — apparently intended for the nearby block bounded by Travis, Milam, Pease, and Jefferson.

The best part of the story? The Y is being very polite about the whole thing. Having determined that its own building is not worth the $25 million a report determined would be necessary for repairs, the organization will go out of its way to demolish the structure itself, so no future buyer will have to be burdened with similar defensive and wasteful studies — or cleanup. And that future buyer has already been determined: Chevron, which already owns the former Enron building next door, says it has no current plans for the new 85,000-sq.-ft. vacant lot it is purchasing.

At 100,000 square feet, the new YMCA building will be less than half the size of the current facility, but will come with 250 parking spaces. And it will be rated LEED-Silver, which means its construction and operation will conserve energy and resources, unlike the wasteful current building, which was designed by architect Kenneth Franzheim in 1941.

In addition to continuing its mentoring, educational and other life-skill programs, the new facility will include a teen center, child watch area and women’s wellness center, as well as racquetball courts, a basketball gym, swimming pool, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, a chapel, meeting space and a food vendor.

Not included in the new structure: replacements for the 132 “short-term” residential units in the current building.

Below: A photo that illustrates the story!


Downtown YMCA with Chevron (Formerly Enron) Building in Background, Houston

Sarnoff says construction of the replacement building will begin next year. Tellepsen is the contractor. She also reports that the new building will have “double the amount of green space” of the older building. Presumably, the comparison is being made to the current building prior to demolition.

Update: Images of the new building.

Photos: Flickr users ~Isra~ (top) and bilbao58

10 Comment

  • I’m wondering if Chevron purchasing this lot is just a real estate play or will they do something with it?

    It could very well be just a new parking garage they build.

    I do know that Chevron has been pushing efforts to consolidate it’s workforce. The purchase of the Enron buildings was a move in that direction. If they need more space, they may add more office space….

  • Bravo, Chevron. Out with old and in with the new. That’s the Houston way, and I like it. Downtown is better off with a new skyscraper than a crumbling old gym and a temporary home for 132 bums.

    Another step forward in Houston’s renaissance.

    What’s the big deal with old buildings anyway? The new buildings that replace them will become old buildings soon enough. Screw preservation.

    Would Houston be better today if 80 years ago some blue haired preservationist managed to put the kibosh on River Oaks to preserve the integrity of the Dickey Family’s dairy farm? Please.

  • This is just the type of action that’s been wearing on my nerves for so many years. Houston has so much land compared to other cities that it’s absurd to tear down historical structures, at least to the extent we do. We are a laughing stock, both in booms … and busts. Does Bernard have any clue how many surface lots are available only a block from the DT Y? And if he’d dare to walk even … two blocks, many more, etc. Within the boundaries of downtown proper there is so much vacant land!

  • as if houston has such a glut of old buildings downtown already

  • If “another step forward in Houston’s renaissance” involves tearing down a beautiful building — old or new — to make way for a vacant lot, then we need to look at our priorities. Good lord.

  • Wow. We are replacing a significant building with another vacant lot? And the new Y will have less space, no housing, and be more geared towards executives than everday people? How very un-Christian…

  • How dare you say it has no use. I lived there for three months. The building is safe. The people who live there now have to find shelter elsewhere. These are human beings struggling to get back on their feet. Is`nt that what the y.m.c.a is all about? Caring and helping build a better community? The new Y.M.C.A is a great idea but, it won`t replace what people have called home(some for a long time.

  • The building is safe. The people who live there now have to find shelter elsewhere. These are human beings struggling to get back on their feet. Is`nt that what the y.m.c.a is all about? Caring and helping build a better community?

    The reality is the “movers and shakers” want to “move” the “homeless” somewhere other than downtown. Ruins the “ambiance” as they say. “Out of sight, out of mind” as they say. The YMCA did enormous damage to its image in this. They should have provided a housing facility. Somewhere. Anywhere. Instead, well, they didn’t.

  • I just *love* the (2nd) pic by bilboa58!
    Smelly old, quoined, heap of hand-laid bricks set against a backdrop of refined curved, inoperable glass.
    To me, this represents a modern city – old and new.

  • The next “eyesore” that needs to go under the wrecking ball is that useless heap out on South Main, the Astrodome. Reliant could use the parking space.