Update on Joint YMCA and Magnet Middle School Campus Construction. Vertical construction is on the verge of completion for the highly anticipated joint YMCA and magnet middle school campus in the area. Recent developments were discussed during a St. Petersburg City Council meeting held on November 2. Councilmembers unanimously endorsed the final replat plans, which encompass new easements and adjustments to the right of way for the expansive 19-acre Speer YMCA and Mangrove Bay Middle School site, situated at 501 62nd Ave. NE.
Liz Abernethy, the city’s planning and development services director, shared that the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg made modifications to the entry points to address neighborhood access and traffic concerns. In the latest plans, a portion of Pershing Street has been closed to prevent cut-through vehicular traffic.
The project, spearheaded by St. Petersburg-based Wannemacher Jensen Architects and Harvard Jolly, commenced construction last year, and it encompasses an impressive 111,757-square-foot complex. This two-story building will house shared spaces and amenities, serving both YMCA members and over 600 middle school students. The school curriculum will include elective courses aligned with the YMCA’s core areas of impact: Youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility.
Significant progress is evident on the site, with numerous workers currently busy installing equipment and connecting the shared amenities, including the media center, gym, culinary center, track, garden, and pool. According to Abernethy, this campus is poised to remove barriers to access, bringing together families from diverse income backgrounds and promoting health and social equity.
Upon completion, the campus, situated at the former location of Riviera Middle School, will offer students the opportunity to enroll in before- and after-school care programs through the YMCA, along with volunteering opportunities.
Councilmember Brandi Gabbard, who had jurisdiction over the area prior to the 2022 redistricting, emphasized the vital role this project will play in the surrounding neighborhood. She stated, “This is long overdue. In District 2, for those who don’t know, we don’t have a rec center. We have one park and very limited facilities and service for residents, so this is going to be a welcomed addition to the area.”
Councilmembers Ed Montanari and Gina Driscoll, who recently visited the construction site during a hard hat tour, expressed their admiration for the high-quality construction work and meticulous planning. Driscoll commented, “We are at a point now where we really see the vision coming to life and how the school and Y will share resources that benefit everyone… it’s going to create a ripple effect.”
The YMCA is anticipated to make its debut in December, while the school is set to open its doors to students in the fall of 2024.
The financing for this ambitious project is a collaborative effort, with both entities sharing the costs. The YMCA is contributing $21.6 million, and the Pinellas County School Board is allocating $26.3 million.
Earlier this year, YMCA executives announced their intention to close a funding round after successfully raising $20 million for the combined facility. In late October, they achieved an additional $3 million in funding, with the Speer Foundation having previously donated $8 million towards the 75,000-square-foot Speer YMCA.