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Construction Set to Begin on New Downtown Y at Former Lyric Theatre

YMCA of Greater Kansas City
November 13, 2018

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City will host a Construction Kickoff Celebration for the new Downtown YMCA/Kirk Family Community Center. Donors, volunteers, members and the community are invited to gather at a special celebration at 11:15 a.m., Friday, Nov. 16 on the front steps of the former Lyric Theatre building at 1029 Central St. 

The event will include a ceremony to commemorate the redevelopment of the 92-year-old building and illustrate bringing healthy living, youth and community programs to downtown Kansas City. The new Y will bring important programs to the families and commuters in the heart of downtown for the first time including a medical clinic, swim lessons, healthy living classes for children and adults, community events, and opportunities for people of all ages to improve quality of life. 

“The new Y builds on the success of Kansas City’s downtown revitalization, and will bring much-needed community programs to this diverse and growing community,” said David Byrd, president and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. “This is a new chapter in history for our Y and for Kansas City as we transform the historic Lyric Theatre building into a community center that will benefit generations for years to come. We are so grateful to all of our donors and partners for their support to make this project possible.”

The $35-million renovation and reconstruction project is expected to be completed by spring of 2021. It’s funded by $16.9 million from the 11th Street Corridor Tax Increment Financing District, additional funding from the Missouri Development Finance Board, as well as charitable gifts from foundations and individual donors.

The Y will be named the Kirk Family Community Center. The Kirks are longtime YMCA of Greater Kansas City donors and supporters of the new downtown Y. The family includes the late Phil Kirk, the former chairman of DST Realty, now part of SS&C Technologies. He played a key role in Kansas City’s downtown revitalization and was instrumental in bringing the new Y to the former Lyric Theatre. 

Other donors include the Sunderland Foundation; Tom and Jean McDonnell; Illig Family Foundation; William T. Kemper Foundation, Commerce Bank, Trustee; The Kirk Foundation Trust; SS&C Technologies; Victor Speas Foundation, US Trust, Bank of America Corporation; Gary Dickinson Family Charitable Foundation; Kansas City Southern; Mabee Foundation; Dunn Family Foundation; UMB Trusts & Foundations: Arvin Gottlieb Charitable Foundation; Jim and Annabel Nutter Family; Sherman Foundation; KCP&L; Frank and Nancy Kirk; Mark One Electric; Tom and Jill McGee; Natalie Kirk Welch and J.C. Welch; Allen and Libby Blair; Charles and Judy Kahn; and Ron and Nancy Jones. 

Features of the new 62,000-square-foot Downtown YMCA/Kirk Family Community Center include:

  • Preservation of the facade and lobby of the historic building including the original marble floors, ceiling tiles and more to become the new Y entrance.
  • A 42,000-square-foot section of new construction built on the north side of the lobby featuring a contemporary design. Behind the building, there will be a small green space for events and youth sports. 
  • Dramatic two-story windows will be inserted into the new limestone walls along Central bringing natural light into the space and creating a contemporary, eye-catching look to the building’s exterior. The limestone will come from the same quarry that provided the limestone for the original Lyric building.

Amenities inside the new Downtown YMCA/Kirk Family Community Center include:

  • Three community rooms to give members and the community the opportunity to host meetings, celebrations of family and friends, and more. One of the community rooms will feature a teaching kitchen for healthy eating, nutrition and cooking classes. 
  • A Kids Zone constructed near the entrance that will provide a safe and fun place for kids to learn and play.
  • An indoor family pool and lap pool to bring year-round life-saving swim lessons, exercise and recreational opportunities to families downtown for the first time.
  • An enclosed wood-floor gymnasium that can be used for basketball, volleyball, and other youth and adult sports.
  • A large health and wellness area offers a space for guests to improve their health through cardiovascular exercise and strength training featuring the latest state-of-the-art equipment.
  • Three studios for group exercise.
  • A suspended indoor walking and jogging track that will offer views of the lower levels of the center.

The Y has also partnered with Truman Medical Center to offer a medical clinic at the new downtown Y. 

The two organizations first partnered to open TMC’s University Health Clinic adjoining the Linwood YMCA/James B. Nutter, Sr. Community Center in February 2018. The Linwood Y partnership has already proven that working together toward a common vision and mission can improve community health at a time when chronic disease is rising and access to quality health care remains a challenge for many.

The downtown clinic will make health care more accessible not only to Y members, but those in the surrounding area.

“It is part of our mission to get out of the four walls of the hospital and bring health care where it’s needed,” said Charlie Shields, president and CEO of Truman Medical Center. “We are excited about the construction of this new University Health clinic, because it’s in the right place, at the right time. The power of our combined services will make a great impact on the area’s health and wellness.”

TMC’s University Health Clinic is planned for the lower levels of the building. TMC also will partner with Cerner to bring advanced technology to the patient experience at the clinic.

“Bringing this Y and medical clinic to downtown is truly a game changer and an important milestone for the Kansas City community,” said CiCi Rojas, chief volunteer officer for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. “We look forward to the completion of this project so that the Y may impact more lives for the better. There are still opportunities to give. The new Y will allow us to meet the changing needs of the community as more young professionals, families and empty-nesters call downtown home, and will serve as a destination for the entire metro.”

Design and construction partners include BNIM Architects, JE Dunn Construction, Structural Engineering Associates, Henderson Engineers, Antella, Taliaferro & Browne, New Horizons, Land3 Studio, Larkin and FSC.

Development partners include Broadway Square Partners, Downtown Council and MC Realty.

Financing partners include Sun Trust Bank, Industrial Development Authority of the City of Kansas City Missouri, and Missouri Health and Educational Facilities Authority.

For more information, visit KansasCityYMCA.org/Downtown.