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Waukesha YMCA plans to purchase Wauwatosa site

CEO says there will be 'no disruption' of programming

James McClusky (center) takes a shot during a scrimmage of wheelchair basketball players at the West Suburban YMCA on April 11, 2013.

James McClusky (center) takes a shot during a scrimmage of wheelchair basketball players at the West Suburban YMCA on April 11, 2013.

June 4, 2014

With the bankruptcy of the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee, the affiliated West Suburban YMCA in Wauwatosa could soon change hands.

The YMCA of Central Waukesha County, based in the city of Waukesha, has a letter of intent to purchase the site, though financial details have yet to be finalized.

Looking to pay down its debt, the Milwaukee YMCA announced today it plans to sell the Wauwatosa facility, along with most of its centers outside urban Milwaukee.

The Waukesha YMCA plans to purchase the three westernmost sites now operated by the Milwaukee organization. In addition to the Wauwatosa location, which is near the county border, this includes the Tri-County YMCA in Menomonee Falls and the Southwest YMCA in Greenfield.

Chris Becker, chief executive officer of the Waukesha YMCA, said his organization has been considering the purchases over the last two weeks. Due to the sites' proximity to Waukesha County, he said he thought it would be a "natural fit."

Becker said his organization is in a better financial position than the Milwaukee YMCA to run the facilities. While the Milwaukee YMCA had about $30 million in debt, Becker said the Waukesha organization has about $2 million in debt, primarily from building and opening a location in Mukwonago two years ago. He said the Waukesha YMCA has been paying off that debt incrementally.

Becker said purchasing the three YCMAs will require taking on more debt, but he said donors have already stepped up to help with the purchase and stressed that the institution is stable.

"Don't lose trust in the YMCA," Becker said, indirectly addressing members and program participants. "The YMCA will be a strong and viable organization for years to come."

Becker said there would be no disruption to services during the planned transfer of ownership.

"There should be no disruption whatsoever," Becker said. "The members will have their YMCA, it will continue to operate, and we are really excited to enhance the operations of these longstanding facilities."

Although he could not give details, Becker said the Waukesha YMCA is planning to "reinvest in facilities and improvements" at all three sites.

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