Birmingham closes on purchase of YMCA property for senior center

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 9, 2023

 The YMCA property was recently purchased by the city of Birmingham.

The YMCA property was recently purchased by the city of Birmingham.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


BIRMINGHAM — Birmingham NEXT has been operating at Midvale School without a comprehensive lease, and in order to offer all of its services to the community and grow as an organization, it has decided to establish its own location.

The City Commission directed then-City Manager Tom Markus to work with NEXT, the city’s name for its senior services, to find a new home. This is when the city began to explore the possibility of purchasing the YMCA building at 400 E. Lincoln St.

On June 5 the commission passed a resolution to approve and execute a $2 million purchase agreement between the city and the YMCA.

NEXT agreed to contribute $500,000 to the purchase

At a meeting on July 24, the commission approved a three-year lease agreement of $1 per year allowing the YMCA to continue to provide its services after the city closes on the purchase. This provides a three-year transition period where the YMCA will continue to offer services and have some responsibility for the maintenance of the property. The city’s senior services department will secure a written agreement with Birmingham Public Schools to allow the continued use of the Midvale School building for up to three years.

After that, senior programming will occupy 75% or more of the square footage of the YMCA building.

These three years are intended to allow time for planning, financing and necessary renovations to occur. The city officially closed on the purchase of the property July 26.


What does this mean for the YMCA?
“I think in this opportunity there is a way we can maintain a presence here, plus meet a community need and work with a great organization,” Helene Weir, the president and CEO of the YMCA of Detroit, said at the June 5 City Commission meeting. She said the Y plans to work with the city to continue to serve the “many people who currently use both NEXT and the YMCA.”

Weir suggested that there is a potential for the YMCA to support the continuation of intergenerational programming.

“We will continue to be here and we will continue to operate the next few years as we currently do, and we will look forward to operating here still — in a  somewhat different way — but we would still want to be part of the Birmingham community,” Weir said.

Weir said that they cannot predict the future, but it is their goal to remain in the community to some capacity.

“We want to still be engaged here and provide some support to the people in terms of the quality of life that’s offered in the city,” Weir said.

At this point, there is no intent from the city to invest in the ongoing upkeep of the Y’s pool.

“Part of what the YMCA is doing is we are looking at the opportunity to develop a new Y that would serve this community and Royal Oak,” Weir said.

Mayor Therese Longe thanked the YMCA for their decision to work with the city.

“So we thank your board for making that decision,” Longe said. “You certainly could have gotten more money elsewhere, and you prioritized maintaining your services here for a few more years and then maintaining some programming thereafter, and maintaining your history and tradition and your role here.”


Looking forward for NEXT
The city’s senior services are currently operating out of a 10,000-square-foot space, including five rooms and a portion of the gym. They are now serving 2,500 people and have 230 events a month.

“This extra room will really help us to serve your residents better,” said Cris Braun, the executive director of the department.

The new space will give NEXT approximately 40,000 square feet for their services.