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Park South YMCA: Why it was torn down, when it will reopen, and where to find programs in the meantime

By Michaela Rush, Report for America Corps Member

March 25, 2024

South Dallas

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rendering, reconstruction, Park South YMCA, YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas
A rendering of the front facade of the Park South YMCA, provided by YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas.

For more than 50 years, the Park South YMCA has served South Dallas neighbors of all ages through exercise classes, childcare and community events. As part of YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas’ efforts to improve facilities, the Park South building is undergoing a major $15 million renovation, expected to be completed in early 2025. 

Why did they tear down the old Park South YMCA building?

Before a discussion of a full rebuild began, staff and community members knew that the building was in need of asbestos abatement — or removal — due to its age. This, along with the wear and tear of serving hundreds of community members for decades, led the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas to invest in updated and expanded facilities for the South Dallas community. 

Loletha Horton, district executive director for YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas, oversees the Park South location. She grew up in South Dallas, began volunteering at Park South in 1989 and knows first-hand how much the Y means to neighbors. 

“Without the Y, as a single parent, it definitely would have been harder for me to navigate three sons,” Horton says. “What the Y did for me, the Y can do for the community, for families, for single parents, or whole groups [of people], that’s what we do.”

Horton says Park South’s success with neighbors of all ages is why the organization chose to heavily reinvest into the location, giving them the facilities needed to continue and expand their outreach.

“With the age and sheer size of the building, we wanted to make sure that the teardown was done neatly and professionally, to not affect [homes] in that area,” Horton says. “We’re just trying to encourage people and let them know that we’re going to get a brand new great building, which is a blessing for that community.”

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Where are the Park South YMCAs programs operating now? 

The majority of the Y’s programming will continued through construction via partnerships with other community organizations, at the following locations:

Preschool classes also have continued in the preschool academy building owned by the Y, across the street from the former building. 

What will be different about the new Park South YMCA facility? 

The floor plan of the Park South YMCA, provided by YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas.

Once completed, neighbors will have access to a brand-new building, with five notable additions.

  1. New preschool wing, with private entry
  2. Community and senior-specific gathering rooms
  3. New indoor pool
  4. Upgraded fitness areas
  5. Large commercial-grade kitchen

Even though the previous kitchen was able to accommodate daily meals and snacks for preschool classes, and be used for other events, YMCA staff compared it to a typical apartment kitchen, with limited space. Horton believes this upgrade will be one of the most impactful and add to the homey feel of Park South.

“This will allow for greater opportunities, and greater food distribution at the back of the building,” Horton says. “There’ll be more space to move around, a large enough space for more refrigerators, more freezers … we’ll have everyone gathered up in the kitchen.”

The new facility’s design is similar to that of the Lake Highlands location, which underwent renovations in September 2022 until reopening in October 2023, and the Semones Family location, which underwent renovations from January to December 2023. 

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When will the new Park South YMCA open?

Originally, the Park South Y was set to close in June 2023. Instead, the building didn’t close  until Sept. 8, and demolition began about two weeks later. At the renovation kick-off event in September, Brandy Perryman, senior vice president and chief operating officer, said a slow city permitting process created the delays.  

Horton explains that Park South and the surrounding area owned by the Y were listed as several smaller plots by the city, rather than one large unit. She says city staff worked with the Metropolitan Dallas Y team and now the land is properly labeled, which will help prevent future permitting or zoning issues. 

“We just want the community to know that we’re on track, we’re excited for the Y and we’re excited for our families to get a brand-new space,” Horton says. 

An aerial photo after demolition at the Park South YMCA, provided by YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas.

Before the full tear-down, teams began removing asbestos from the old building in phases. Full demolition started in December and was completed on Jan. 17 of this year.

As of publication, the new facility is set to open in early 2025. The Metropolitan Dallas and Park South teams will provide updates on their website and Facebook pages.

What are neighbors saying?

Mary Bennett has been a member of the Park South Y since 1984, shortly after she moved to South Dallas. Over the past 40 years, she’s made the most of her membership, attending exercise and dance classes, and participating in senior groups and other activities. 

While she’s certainly looking forward to the new space, Bennett says the goodbye event in September was bittersweet because it meant a temporary pause of the community time she has greatly enjoyed.

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“I knew I was going to miss the socializing and the fellowship, I know we’re getting a new building, and I’m so excited for that,” Bennett says. “We were invited to [Lake Highlands] … I thought, ‘Oh wow, our building is going to be something similar to this.’ ” 

During the closure, Bennett and some of her friends from Park South meet at the South Dallas Cultural Center for classes and fellowship. While she’s looking forward to the new facilities, and hopes the reconstruction will attract more members, she’s most excited to get back with her friends and the Y staff. 

“They’re my Park South family,” Bennett says.

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