Iconic Downtown White Plains Building to be Sold

John Jordan | April 2018

YMCA of Central and Northern Westchester's White Plains complex on Mamaroneck Ave.

WHITE PLAINS—A storied building that has been a staple for nearly a century in Downtown White Plains is being put on the market for sale.

The YMCA of Central and Northern Westchester has decided to put the White Plains YMCA complex on Mamaroneck Ave. on the market for sale. Officials with the YMCA said that the process to secure a buyer and obtain approvals for the new use for the property should take between 18 to 24 months. YMCA officials say the association has already received interest from a number of interested parties for the buildings that total approximately 118,000 square feet in the heart of the city’s downtown district.

Cynthia Rubino, president and CEO of the YMCA

Cynthia Rubino, president and CEO of the YMCA of Central & Northern Westchester, tells Real Estate In-Depth that the decision was a difficult one but was based in part on a drop in usage of its fitness facilities and the high costs to maintain the property. The main YMCA building was built in 1927 and the adjoining annex, which includes housing, was completed in 1972.

Rubino noted that the YMCA’s two pools have been closed since September and require repairs of approximately $500,000.

She said that the YMCA did not want to sell the property, but beginning four years ago began to re-think its core purpose and how it could deliver its services in light of increased competition, particularly from fitness clubs, etc. “In 1927 we were the only gym in town, and that is surely not the case today,” she said noting that a fitness operation recently opened across the street from the YMCA on Mamaroneck Ave.

“Given the unsustainable costs of maintaining this aging building, we felt this was our best option to continue offering our many services to our valued members. Over the last four years, we have invested more than $1 million in this aging infrastructure. These funds would be better spent bringing vital services to our community at various locations throughout our service area,” said Rubino.

She added that the real growth area and need in the region is child care. In fact, the YMCA is home to two of the White Plains School District’s universal pre-K programs. “What we want to do in moving forward is to become what they call a ‘non-facility branch,’” Rubino noted.

The YMCA of Central and Northern Westchester currently operates child care facilities in Somers and at Camp Combe in Putnam Valley in Putnam County.

Rubino said that the YMCA will relocate child care services now being offered at the main YMCA building on Mamaroneck Avenue to another White Plains location. In addition, the leased offices will also provide space for senior citizen programs as well as its very successful “Youth in Government” program, Rubino said.

The YMCA will put its fitness-related programs on the road, dubbed “the Y on the Move,” and will partner with other groups, businesses or organizations to bring the association’s services to them rather than have these groups travel to the YMCA to take advantage of these health and fitness related offerings.

“You have to change with the times,” Rubino said. “The good news is that the Y is not a building. The Y is a movement. So we can go into places and do diabetes programs and do exercise programs that will really help the community. And this gives us that flexibility and it is really an exciting option.”

The new, non-facility model, which has been rolled out at other YMCA organizations in the United States, will allow the YMCA of Central and Northern Westchester to maintain and reinvest in existing services, and expand and grow its programs to serve additional communities. The goal of the program is to extend the impact of the YMCA in pursuit of its mission—“to enrich each and every life through a unique, dynamic combination of programs that strengthens spirit, mind and body.”

Rubino said that the YMCA will likely seek approximately 10,000 square feet of leased space somewhere within the City of White Plains. She said that thus far several private developers and not-for-profits looking to perhaps create affordable housing at the complex have expressed interest. She said the YMCA will have to secure approval from the New York State Attorney General who will ensure that the organization obtains the highest and best use of the property.

The YMCA next month will host a housing fair for its residents to showcase other potential housing opportunities to its residents. At present there are approximately 140 housing residents at the White Plains YMCA.

Rubino said that there is no time frame on when the organization would like to secure a sales agreement.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth