In the heart of NoDa, once known as North Charlotte, sits the Johnston YMCA. For over 70 years, this sprawling porch and magnificent white columned building has been a gathering place for the community. However, its future now hangs in the balance as the YMCA of Greater Charlotte plans to sell the 5.78-acre property.
Initially, the YMCA had intended to close the Johnston Y by the end of this year. However, a deal to sell the property to a developer fell through, forcing the organization back to the drawing board. Despite this setback, the YMCA remains determined to seek a buyer for the property.
The sale of the Johnston Y represents a significant loss for the community. NoDa Church, which uses the gym as its meeting place and hosts community events like Movies on the Lawn, will now need to find a new home. Tim Vanderbeek, an elder at NoDa Church, emphasizes the importance of the partnership between the church and the YMCA, particularly in terms of food drives and summer camps. The direct involvement in the community will be sorely missed.
The property’s value is estimated at $19.4 million, according to Mecklenburg County tax records. With its desirable location, the sale is expected to generate much more. The Charlotte YMCA is selling the property as a solution to its balance-sheet problems, as Y membership reportedly fell 25% from 2019 to 2021 due to the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, the sale of the Johnston Y comes at a significant cost to the neighborhood. NoDa has a rich history rooted in the cotton mill industry, which is no longer prevalent in other parts of Charlotte. The YMCA’s building itself offers a connection to this industrial past, complemented by the nearby mill buildings that have been repurposed as apartment complexes.
To many residents like myself, the sale of the Johnston Y means losing not only services but also a tangible link to Charlotte’s past. The NoDa Neighborhood and Business Association’s history committee has stressed the importance of preserving the building’s facade and retaining a YMCA presence on the site, but it appears that our requests will likely be ignored.
As NoDa continues to undergo gentrification, this sale marks a significant shift from a historic mill village to a modern neighborhood with scattered remnants of its past. Affordable services that drew people from surrounding areas will be lost, and the sense of community that the Johnston Y provided will be greatly missed.
In the face of these changes, the YMCA organization has stated its commitment to finding alternative ways to serve the community’s children, even without a physical building. However, the loss of this community hub raises questions about what the future holds for NoDa and whether the neighborhood will retain its unique identity.
1. Why is the Johnston YMCA being sold?
The Charlotte YMCA is selling the Johnston YMCA due to its balance-sheet problems, as Y membership fell 25% from 2019 to 2021. The sale is seen as a solution to these challenges.
2. What will happen to NoDa Church and community events?
NoDa Church, which currently uses the gym at the Johnston YMCA for its Sunday services and community events, will need to find a new home. The loss of the Johnston Y will impact the church’s ability to host events and engage with the community directly.
3. Will the YMCA continue to serve area children?
The YMCA organization has expressed its commitment to finding alternative ways to serve area children, even without a physical building. They are exploring options to continue their services in different capacities.