New Y exceeding expectations

Dignitaries cut the ribbon to commemorate the opening of the new Copley-Price Family YMCA in City Heights.
Dignitaries cut the ribbon to commemorate the opening of the new Copley-Price Family YMCA in City Heights.

Rising from property formerly occupied by Pearson Ford at Fairmount and El Cajon, the new Copley-Price Family YMCA is quickly becoming a crown jewel for the Mid-City area of San Diego.

When Price Charities purchased the five acre site in 2008 (including the undeveloped 1.5 acre lot across the street), the site was envisioned as a community asset for the three intersecting neighborhoods: Talmadge, Kensington, and City Heights.

After considering many options, Robert Price and the Price Charities Board of Directors decided on donating the land to build a new YMCA to replace the 59 year old Y on Landis Street, a few blocks away.

At the ribbon cutting event in January, speaker after speaker commented that the new Y has exceeded everyone’s imagination.

“Nothing in my life has ever worked as perfectly as this project,” Price said as he addressed the several hundred guests who filled the freshly minted basketball gymnasium adding that “this will be a game changer.”

“This is a flagship,” San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said. “People from all walks of life will come to this Y.”

In what brings to memory a line from the movie Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come” has never been truer than the Copley-Price Family YMCA.

The old Y had a membership base of about 1,000. The new Y already has more than 3,100 memberships as of Valentine’s Day, exceeding the goal for the entire year by 500.

The enthusiasm to join the Copley-Price Family YMCA resulted from a combination of factors including offering more scholarships to families, an outreach campaign to sign people up in surrounding neighborhoods, and as Robert said, “Sol said the best advertisement is word of mouth. The word got out on this.” About 40% of the members are now coming from north of El Cajon Boulevard.

As envisioned, the property is bringing together communities that in the past have not mingled.

“We’re kind of the cultural center of the community right now,” Loni Lewis of the YMCA of San Diego County told Channel 8 at the ribbon cutting. “People have come from all three communities in the area and we’ve got something for everybody and so it’s just a wonderful place for everybody to come.”

The 53,000-square-foot facility features an indoor and outdoor pool, a basketball gym, group exercise rooms, free-weights, exercise machines, child-care centers, community meeting space, and a demonstration kitchen.