A building on Abbeville’s North Main Street that already houses a library might soon have a second tenant: the YMCA.
After representatives from the nonprofit said they were interested in opening a facility in Abbeville, county administration suggested several locations, of which the building at 1407 N. Main St. was their preference, said County Director David Garner.
Discussions between the county and the Y have involved the details of the lease and the programming the organization would offer.
“We want them to augment what we already have,” Garner said. The city already has a local gym and a thriving recreation program, while the hospital offers a wellness center.
Brian Harlan, CEO of the Lakelands YMCA, said the organization wouldn’t try to compete with the hospital or the county’s recreation program but complement what they already offer.
“We’re really high on our community integrated health programs,” Harlan said, such as fitness programs tailored to those that suffer from arthritis or diabetes. A splash pad, an outdoor basketball court, and yoga and spin classes were some other possibilities at the location.
“They’re a community resource,” Garner said. “It’s not just a fitness center.”
Successful expansion into Abbeville will need partnerships with local stakeholders, Harlan said. A favorable lease with the county or employee memberships sponsored by the county’s largest employers were two examples he provided.
Preliminary discussions between the YMCA and Abbeville County School District are already underway, he added. And, because the Y would likely share a building with the library, he wants to offer some form of academic support.
The building will have to be renovated before a tenant moves in, Garner said.
“At the end of the day, we don’t have people beating down our doors saying, ‘We need space, what do you have available,’” Garner said. “So when we have someone that’s interested, we do get excited.”
After the support of county and city officials, Harlan said the YMCA would begin soliciting residents’ feedback. After securing a lease, it would take six to eight months to get the facility up and running, he added.
“I think there’s a lot of potential for us in Abbeville to make this work and make this sustainable,” Harlan said. “It needs to be well received not only by the county officials but the residents.”