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Governor Hochul Announces Grand Opening of $27.5 Million Watertown Family YMCA in Jefferson County

Date: Monday, December 11, 2023
Source: Office of the Governer of New York


Defense Community Infrastructure Program

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of the new $27.5 million Watertown Family YMCA in Jefferson County. The new facility repurposed a vacant, 89,000-square-foot building in the heart of Downtown Watertown into a family wellness, aquatics and fitness center that will benefit residents and neighboring communities. Empire State Development supported the project with a $3.6 million capital grant to assist with construction and rehabilitation costs.

“The completion of the Watertown YMCA is the culmination of many ongoing, strategic investments by New York State to redevelop Downtown Watertown that are breathing new excitement in the community,” Governor Hochul said. “The opening of this new and modern facility is another important milestone in this exciting transformation that will help revitalize and grow Downtown Watertown, now and for the future.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “The new Watertown Family YMCA is poised to be a vital anchor in Downtown Watertown, providing residents a center that will bring new life to the community. This new, modern facility will continue to bring countless benefits to a new generation of families well into the future.”

YMCA CEO Denise Young said, “We remain so grateful for the support we have received to make this project a reality for our community. This is not about a building, but about what will happen inside it, improving lives for the next five generations.”

The Watertown Family YMCA has offered benefits like swimming and exercise classes, and a variety of after school educational programs for the City of Watertown and surrounding communities for over a century. This new and modern facility expands on its traditional programming to meet the diverse needs of the community and will include features such as lap and recreational pools, an indoor track, multi-sport courts, exercise studios and a wellness center as well as community rooms, childwatch and kids adventure areas, art space and a space for teens. The new location features more than 350 public parking spaces and offers multiple entry and exit points. Additionally, the new YMCA Community Center enhances the City of Watertown’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI), ensuring the Y’s legacy as an anchor in downtown that will continue to benefit the entire community.

The project was also awarded a $9 million U.S. Department of Defense grant from the Defense Communities Infrastructure Pilot program to support military families at Fort Drum.

State Senator Mark Walczyk said, "My hats off to all involved in the completion of the new YMCA. For years, thousands of families from across Northern New York have benefited from the programs offered at the 'Y' and this new facility will continue that legacy. This new YMCA will truly be a gem for Downtown Watertown."

Assemblymember Scott Gray said, “Today marks a significant milestone for Watertown and Jefferson County as the brand-new Watertown Family YMCA is unveiled. This facility not only brings life back to a once-vacant building remembered by many as the “Harvest House” but also expands essential wellness, recreational and educational programs that meet the diverse needs of our community. Empire State Development's support has been instrumental in making this project a reality. The YMCA will serve as a beacon of health, education, and community spirit in the heart of Downtown Watertown, strengthening the ongoing Downtown Revitalization Initiative and benefiting residents for generations to come.”

Jefferson County Board of Legislators Chair William W. Johnson said, “What a great day for the YMCA, the City of Watertown and Jefferson County. This beautiful building is a testament to what can take place when all levels of government work together. I am glad that that Jefferson County could play a small role in this project.”

Watertown Mayor Jeff Smith said, “Today’s not about one project; it’s about multiple investments breathing life into our downtown. Investments like the DRI and the new YMCA project strengthen the community core and stimulate new projects like the redevelopment of the Globe Building. We’re not just growing, we’re creating a vibrant hub that will encourage more investment in our City. Thank you, Governor Hochul, and Empire State Development for your partnership in strengthening downtown Watertown.”

In addition to the new YMCA Aquatics Center, several state-supported projects are underway in Downtown Watertown. 5G Real Estate Group, LLC is undertaking a nearly $3 million project to restore the blighted and vacant Globe Building into 11 market rate apartments and 14,000 square feet of commercial space. The project, identified as a "specific target for redevelopment" in Watertown’s DRI strategic plan, is being supported with $558,000 in DRI funding through ESD.

Other projects nearing completion include the Downtown Street streetscape redevelopment project, which was awarded $1.5 million in DRI funds through the Department of State; and the Jefferson Community College Center for Entrepreneurship project in the former Strand Theater and Lamon Buildings on Franklin Street, supported by $2.5 million in DRI funding from ESD. The redevelopment of 138, 152-154, and 170 Court Street, supported by a $990,000 Restore New York grant awarded to the City of Watertown, is now complete.