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YMCA continues programming in spite of building foreclosure

Date: 8/6/2014

SPRINGFIELD – The ultimate fate of the Dunbar Community Center – which is facing foreclosure and auction – is not known at this time, but the YMCA of Greater Springfield (the Y) is continuing presenting its programs at the fabled facility at 33 Oak St. as long as it can. 

Kirk Smith, the president and the CEO of the YMCA, told Reminder Publications the organization is committed to serving the residents of Mason Square and said, “There is an interest on the Y’s part to eventually own the property.”

Smith, who sent out a letter on July 25 describing the situation at Dunbar, said on Aug. 4 there has been no movement in the effort to reach an agreement with Colorado-based Republic Financial Corporation, which bought the mortgage to the property from Bank of America.

Smith said to his knowledge the amount owed on the mortgage is between $1 million and $1.1 million.

He has not been told when the auction will take place, but he believes it will be in September or early in the fall.

According to the letter, the YMCA began running services and programs at the facility in May 2011 in response to the financial problems Dunbar Inc. was facing at the time. Since then 3,500 people are members at Dunbar, Smith said.

The YMCA has no debt at the property, but Smith called the operations at Dunbar a “loss center for the Y.”

In Smith’s letter he detailed an offer by Develop Springfield to buy the community center from Republic Financial was rejected and Dunbar Inc. rejected an offer from Republic for a deed transfer which would give the company full ownership of the building and give a lease for six months to the YMCA.

In his letter he wrote, “The YMCA remains fully committed to maintaining a presence in Mason Square, in an effort to continue to meet the growing needs of this community. In addition to creating an in-depth business plan to retain and grow the Y at the 33 Oak Street location should we be fortunate enough to remain there, the Y has also developed a contingency plan to relocate its programs and services to other locations within Mason Square. While the latter option would present significant challenges, we understand that our presence in Mason Square is necessary and we are prepared to do everything in our power to ensure that our work continues.”

Smith explained that one challenge is there are no other facilities like Dunbar in the neighborhood. He is concerned about a “contraction of services” to the members if the YMCA is compelled to move out of Dunbar.

He said that since the letter was sent “potential investors” have reached out to Smith.

Until the auction, Smith said, “The way we are looking at it, it’s business as usual [at Dunbar].” The YMCA will continue running its programs there until the new owners tell the organization it has to stop. He said they are forming a contingency plan not only to have to move by the end of the year, but also within 30 days notice.

He added the staff of the YMCA is “working really hard” to seek a resolution to the issue.