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Metro YMCA adds to family of centers with northeast facility

The YMCA has been in Jackson for more than a century, growing into a family of centers that stretch across the metro area. And, that family is still growing as the Metropolitan YMCAs of Mississippi is preparing to open yet another center in the city, this one to serve residents in Northeast Jackson.

“Y Northeast Jackson” will open in Deville Plaza shopping center at the intersection of busy Canton Club Road and Interstate 55 in space formerly home to a drugstore. At press time, no definitive opening date had been set, but Meg Outlaw, Y Northeast Jackson executive director, says the totally refurbished facility should begin serving members sometime in late April.

“We’re all just so excited,” Outlaw says. “It is going to be just a great facility.”

Community (re)development

The Y Northeast Jackson is community development — or redevelopment — in its purest form. Outlaw says her group began looking at the 14,000-square-foot Deville location in the fall, and feels it is a perfect fit.

Deville Plaza is home to nine tenants, anchored by Stein Mart, Sports & Co., Tuesday Morning and Radio Shack. According to Deville operator Regency Properties (which also operates Columbia Marketplace in Columbia), nearly 4,700 households can be found within a one-mile radius of the shopping complex, and the average household income is $64,730.

Other Deville retailers see the coming of the Y as a boon, according to Outlaw. Sports & Co. stands to really gain from the Y’s close proximity, and Outlaw says the sporting goods store has been extremely supportive.

“The local businesses have really gotten behind us,” Outlaw adds.

The former drugstore required extensive renovations, including the tearing down and building of walls and raising and lowering the ceiling. Outlaw had nothing but praise for the contractor, Fountain Construction Company Inc. of Jackson, which executed both the design and construction, and says the interior will offer an inviting atmosphere with rich colors, angled walls and other features.

Outlaw estimates that during the summer, counting part- and full-time staff and instructors, the Y Northeast Jackson will employ approximately 50 people.

The facility will offer studios for aerobics, yoga/Pilates, group Pilates Reformer and y-Cycle, as well as areas for cardio, strength training, free weights, “Tweens” (children eight to 12) and “Child Watch.” The Coffee Corner and men’s and women’s locker rooms round out the facility’s interior amenities.

Outside the walls, there is more positive community development news. As part of the deal, the Y Northeast Jackson has taken over the Briarwood Pool, which will be offered to Y Northeast Jackson members. The pool has been around for decades, and is the home of the Briarwood Dolphin swim team. The pool’s upkeep had become burdensome to the community, according to Outlaw, and welcomes the Y’s arrival.

Outlaw says the early membership recruiting efforts have been very successful. Through March 15, the Y Northeast Jackson offered charter memberships, which, among other benefits, waived the joining fee.

“But, to see the interest in a facility that we can’t even show yet is exciting,” Outlaw says. “The outpouring of interest and support has been nothing short of amazing.”

New look

On April 9, 1905, the YMCA was organized in Jackson at First Baptist Church by a group of 40 men. The first building was erected in 1907 at the present site of The Clarion-Ledger, and the organization has expanded over the years. Today, there are four centers in the greater Jackson area, not including a satellite location on West Capitol Street.

Founded to offer a wholesome and healthy environment for young men and, later, young women, the Y Northeast Jackson looks to continue that mission, but with a decidedly modern approach. To show the evolution of the YMCA, the Y Northeast Jackson will provide more programs for the “Tweens,” including a game room offering the popular Wii and “Dance Dance Revolution.” The new Y will also offer a place for after-school studies.

Outlaw says while things and times have changed, the YMCA’s mission has stayed the same, and she says she and her team understand that the Y represents more than just a place to get in shape or stay fit — it is a place for families and communities to come together. The YMCA selected the Deville site specifically to meet the needs of those living in Northeast Jackson, a community the Y felt it could serve better with this facility.

She adds that corporate support is crucial to the YMCA’s programs and outreach. She says the business community sponsoring youth sports teams and supporting fundraising events is an enormous asset for her organization. Often, those funds are used to help some to financially support a deserving child who would otherwise find membership unaffordable.

A Jackson native, Outlaw has been at the Downtown YMCA on East River Place for more than 13 years, and admits to be a little sad at leaving. But she adds that she is anxious to get the Y Northeast Jackson up and running.

Outlaw says plans for a grand opening party are still being finalized (charter members get a VIP invitation), but she promises it will be a great event

Contact MBJ staff writer Wally Northway at wally.northway@msbusiness.com..

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