Smoky Bissell donation to help fund new YMCA location
Employees in Ballantyne Corporate Park will soon have easy access to a state-of-the-art fitness facility as construction begins on a new YMCA location in Ballantyne.
The latest YMCA of Greater Charlotte location will be known as “Sara’s Y” in memory of Sara Harris Bissell, the late wife of Ballantyne developer Smoky Bissell, and will be located at the corner of Brixham Hill Avenue and Ballantyne Corporate Place. The 24,000-square-foot facility will cater to corporate tenants and offer indoor and outdoor fitness spaces, group exercise classes, a yoga studio and more, according to Steve Bowers, YMCA of Greater Charlotte’s community vice president, who is leading the development effort.
The total cost of the project is estimated around $5 million, Bowers said. An initial $2.5 million donation was made on behalf of Smoky and Margaret Bissell and YMCA of Greater Charlotte will contribute the remaining $2.5 million.
“It was an extremely generous gift from Mr. Bissell,” Bowers said. “It’s making this project possible.”
The groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for May 2, a Saturday, in conjunction with the 11th annual Run! Ballantyne 8K and 5K. This year’s race will start and finish at the site of Sara’s Y.
“Right now, we have a targeted finish date of Jan. 31, 2016,” Bowers said. “It’s aggressive, certainly, but we think it’s possible.”
Bowers said he hopes Sara’s Y will serve as a “hub” for community and civic engagement for members of the corporate park, where they can find volunteer opportunities, special events and ways to strengthen involvement in south Charlotte.
“The entire YMCA of Greater Charlotte is excited to begin work on Sara’s Y,” said Molly Thompson, communications senior director at YMCA of Greater Charlotte. “This facility will not only provide programs and services to improve physical health, it will be the place where employees of the corporate park and surrounding neighborhoods come to connect, give back and engage in activities that foster a sense of community.”
Sara’s Y will join two Ballantyne YMCA locations, including Morrison Family YMCA and Ballantyne Village YMCA. Ballantyne Village YMCA’s lease expires at the end of January 2016, however, and Bowers said he expects they will not renew since Sara’s Y should be completed by then.
Though Morrison Family YMCA is located less than three miles from the future site of Sara’s Y, Bowers said the two facilities cater to different members.
“Sara’s Y will be a corporate health and wellness YMCA, so it won’t have youth programs,” he said. “It will be dedicated to health and wellness and focus on serving the corporate world.”