It’s Official the Dupont YMCA Building Has Sold – Facility Closing Dec. 31st

1711 Rhode Island Avenue, NW

“Today, the Board of Directors of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington approved the decision to enter into a purchase agreement for the YMCA National Capital facility, located at 1711 Rhode Island Avenue, NW. As part of the Y’s longtime mission to support families, kids and its community, the nonprofit’s volunteer board and staff leadership are reallocating its limited resources and restructuring operations to meet changing needs and emerging gaps. The Y will continue to have a strong presence in the District, and its primary focus is transitioning its staff, members and services, as well as maintaining community outreach programs.

“This was not an easy decision, but as a nonprofit organization with limited resources, the YMCA must continually evaluate community needs against available resources to strike the right balance in fulfilling our mission,” said Keith Smith, Chair of the Board of Directors for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. “Our buildings may house us, but they do not define us. We have a tremendous opportunity to grow and broaden our reach, but in order to do so, we have to establish more appropriate and efficient models for service delivery.”

While the YMCA National Capital facility has served the downtown business district for 37 years, the needs of the community require that the Y evolve its approach to a community/ neighborhood-based model where it can serve more children and families. With more than 30 like-service providers within walking distance, membership at the YMCA National Capital has declined from a peak of 11,000 to today’s 3,400. As a result, the facility operates at an increasing financial deficit. The Y has invested more than $1.5 million in capital improvements in the building, but because the investments necessarily addressed inefficiencies of the facility and not aesthetics, they did not spur membership growth. After reviewing several proposals, the YMCA has selected a developer with which to move forward. The facility will close as a YMCA as of December 31, 2015.

“One of our top priorities during this transitional period is providing support and resources to Y staff. We anticipate that many employees, as well as popular programs, will find a home at YMCA Anthony Bowen,” said Angie Reese-Hawkins, President & CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington.

The Y will continue to serve the nation’s capital through two program centers in the NE and SE quadrants of the city, numerous satellite locations, and the recently renovated YMCA Anthony Bowen, a state-of-the-art facility with historic roots located 1 mile from YMCA National Capital. Nearly 25% of YMCA National Capital members have already begun using YMCA Anthony Bowen. Community-based programs will continue without interruption, including the YMCA DC Youth & Government Program, STEM programs at schools and community events, mentoring, before and after-school care, summer camp and summer learning programs. In addition, a new DC site will be secured for summer camp in 2016.

The Y plans to utilize the proceeds from the sale of the YMCA National Capital facility to serve more region-wide residents and provide more volunteer and employment opportunities, thus increasing its impact in the region. In addition, proceeds from the sale will allow the Y to contribute to the revitalization of existing region-wide community/ neighborhood-based Ys, reinvest in programs and services that serve families (such as Youth Advocacy, Achievement Gap, Early Child Development and STEM), alleviate existing debt, and contribute to determining the feasibility of establishing another YMCA facility in Washington, DC.

“Our goal is to increase our capacity to serve more people, engage more volunteers and reinvest in communities in the District and beyond,” said Reese-Hawkins. “The YMCA takes great pride in being a vital part of the community for 163 years. To that end, we are actively looking for new sites in the District to open a family-centered YMCA.”

43 Comment

  • Pick up basketball at the Capitol YMCA is an institution in DC. You get people from all generations and all backgrounds playing together and making friends. Very special and very uncommon. I will miss it.

    • When was the last time you played ball there? I left the Y just over a year ago as the games and players were getting to the point of ridiculous. The arguments and near fights would constantly be breaking out and the employees manning the clock would sit idly by. You would swear some of these idiots swore Ernie Grunfield was spying on them ready to offer them a 90 day contract if they could just show that being 5’7″ wasn’t a problem. Granted it was only a few players, but the Y’s inaction drove away more than it attracted. The other employees (i.e. front desk, locker key, etc.) I found to be very friendly.

  • Ugh. After months of deliberating, I finally canceled my membership at VIDA and joined the Y last night. They swore up and down that they didn’t know anything about plans to sell and that if anything did happen, it would take many months.

    I belonged to the Y years ago and was very excited to return. The pool is fantastic and will be sorely missed. I’ll try to make the most of the next three months, but I don’t know what will fill this gap.

  • I loved belonging to this Y – I only left because my office building has a subsidized gym. It had such a great community feel!

  • Egad

    Well that was fast.

  • NO!!!! Its got the best worst pool in the city! Any other suggestions on where to swim downtown (other than the Anthony Bowen pool)?

    • Dunbar High School . . . free to DC residents and lots of open-to-the-public hours weekday mornings and evenings, as well as weekends throughout the day.

  • Smack in the middle of K St, Dupont and Logan, but you can’t get anyone to join? Maybe, just maybe, the problem is the horrible customer service and incompetent leadership exhibited through the years, and not the aesthetics?

    • +1000 – Yes, I commented yesterday, good riddance. They treated paying customers horribly, and best I could tell, they left in droves. They charged rates higher than local for-profit gyms, and were rude and surly to those customers.

    • Unfortunately, I have to concur. The front-desk staff are utterly clueless for the most part. And they have been progressively ratcheting up my monthly dues over the last 2 years without notice (oh, and that December “contribution”!) The two things that have kept me hanging on to membership are the pool and having a locker room close to work.

  • Just joined last month and was really enjoying. Staff are tremendous and classes don’t have the hoity toity gym feel.

  • Being a member at this Y is the first time I’ve ever felt a sense of community at a gym. I’m so sad to see this unique facility close. Nothing gold can stay, I guess.

    • I’m so with you. Nothing else like it in this town…

    • I completely agree with you. I loved the classes, teachers and people were friendly and down-to-earth, unless those pretentious gyms around. This Y will be missed greatly!!!

  • Egad

    I’ve used their summer camp and day camp services before since it is near my office. Not the brightest, most shiny facilities but there was a pool, which my kid loved, and the staff was very sweet. It was a great, affordable option when I needed a no-frills place where my child could go to play sports and do activities when school was not in session.

  • Funny. Staff found out today…when it leaked. So much for support.

  • I go to the Anthony Bowen YMCA, and it is quite nice. But slightly off-topic: Anthony Bowen has murals on the walls, and specifically near the locker rooms, there is a big one with portraits of civil rights leaders. Two of the portraits are recent YMCA executives. Has this irked anyone else? OK, you serve the community and all, but let’s not compare the current head of the YMCA of DC with Thurgood Marshall….

  • This is so sad. I have loved this Y and the community there. And it’s going to be hard to find a good substitute for the Y’s great lap pool.

  • This is a shame – the pool is really amazing – from another era. Loved swimming here – With this pool closing and East Potomac closing , dang its a tough year for us swimmers who like to mix things up. That said the Wilson Aquatic Center is unbelievable …

  • maxwell smart

    I look forward to the inevitable lackluster glass box office tower that will take it’s place.

  • Very sad. Other cities have no trouble keeping their downtown Ys. The pool is a great resource. For all the whining the other day, I’d say my experience was no better/worse than the much fancier gym where I belonged in Atlanta. I wonder if the mission will transition in some way.

  • Can Anthony Bowen PLEASE get larger locker rooms?

    • dcgator

      Where would they expand into?

    • Yeah–I was really excited to check out the Anthony Bowen Y, but damn the locker room sucks. 20+ lockers in a space that 3 guys can stand. I’m always standing around waiting for ppl to finish to get to my locker. The old Y was, well, old, but the space is amazing.

  • Though I’ve never frequented this gym, sad to see an engaged, community-supporting establishment bite the dust. As for pools, it’s a hike from this location but Takoma Rec. Center has one of the best free, public establishments in the city. Great resource!

  • I love this gym. The staff is great. The classes are great. I feel like I am losing my home.

  • dcgator

    Really, though. I’m going to have to move from the 14th St Y because it’s going to become so overcrowded. Awesome ripple effect.

  • Longtime Nat’l Cap. Y member here. I went to Anthony Bowen a few weeks back b/c for some reason the Dupont location was closed (luckily I live in Columbia Heights). I loved it but it is TINY. No way they can handle all of the influx they’ll get from Nat’l Cap refugees. It’s gonna be a zoo come 2016. Seriously thinking about cancelling my membership.

  • “With more than 30 like-service providers within walking distance, membership at the YMCA National Capital has declined from a peak of 11,000 to today’s 3,400. ”

    I have a HINT for the Y – open your next location in Petworth, Brookland, Brightwood or any of a number of neighborhoods with NO full-service gyms. The city is far, far, far from over saturated with gyms.

  • This makes me so sad. This Y was so civic minded and family friendly. It’s been one of the few places in the city that made me feel part of a larger community. It was old and kind of dingy but it was decently equipped and super friendly. One of the few places in town where people from different backgrounds came together. DC needs way more community spaces like this. It is/was more than just a gym.

  • The DC Y is not run by smart, business people. So busy providing these services they saw as their whole jobs, the forgot to take care of their cash engine, gym members. Rude, disinterested staff, dirty facilities. Every year for the past 6 years, the smart board decided to, without consent, reach into their members pockets with an “special assessment” that discriminated against single people by charging them twice (per person) what couples were assessed.

    Great. Goodbye nice Anthony Bowen. Hello overcrowding. The AB Y isn’t large enough to accommodate all the new membership from NCY.

    This board and their ineffectual president should be torn down in Dec too.

  • I’m pretty bummed. Does anyone know if they are transferring memberships to Anthony Bowen or will they expect us to sign up again (I think AB costs more)?

    I’m also considering canceling altogether. I wish there were gyms that let you pay per visit. Does anyone know of any? I’m looking for Bodypump type classes, or just regular equipment.

  • I would have liked to go there but for me the membership dues were always way too high, esp. for something that is supposed to be community oriented. The most important aspect was always the summer camp. Lot of families are going to be hard up for an affordable summer camp option close enough to work for pickup on time, if there is not enough room at Bowen to take the kids who need care when school lets out.

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