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Groundbreaking for Indian Land YMCA one more step toward the ‘vision’

Indian Land SC YMCA breaks ground at CrossRidge

A new YMCA in Indian Land SC is under construction. It's in the CrossRidge development.
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A new YMCA in Indian Land SC is under construction. It's in the CrossRidge development.

Stronger families, safer children, bustling business, gathering community. It’s a lot to put on a pile of dirt.

Indian Land leaders say they’ve got the right project, and the right pile of dirt.

“Everything is happening right now, right here in Lancaster County, to give us the amenities and the green space and the recreation we need,” said Melissa Prince with CrossRidge Center. “And part of that is the YMCA.”

Scores of people gathered Friday morning for groundbreaking at what will be an Indian Land YMCA to rival, and in many ways surpass, any other in the tri-county area. The 16-acre site is part of CrossRidge, a 170-acre development on U.S. 521 just east of its Dobys Bridge Road intersection.

CrossRidge will have the YMCA along with an almost four-acre hotel site, 41 acres of office or commercial space, 15 acres of apartments, 15 acres of apartments and about 10 more acres of U.S. 521 frontage for commercial development.

CrossRidge Chief Operating Officer Ben Cerullo announced Friday morning his group will build a 75,000-square-foot Class A office space building.

“We see the vision,” Cerullo said of the expected late 2019 groundbreaking. “We see the opportunity and the potential that this corridor of Lancaster County has to offer.”

With all there is planned at CrossRidge, he said, the YMCA, set to open in summer 2020, remains an anchor and focal point.

“They’re a perfect fit to help fulfill the vision that we have here,” Cerullo said.

Area YMCA service dates back to 1913 in the Rock Hill area. The organization got its first building in 1951 and they’ve added 14 locations. Upper Palmetto YMCA, which includes sites in York, Chester and Lancaster counties, now has about 44,000 members.

Planning for the Indian Land YMCA began four years ago. In recent years new facilities have been a mix of partnerships. The Clover School District owns one in Lake Wylie. The Town of Fort Mill another, which the YMCA operates. A partnership with USC Lancaster has the YMCA running a site there too. The Fort Mill and USC Lancaster sites give the group three locations, along with CrossRidge, within 10 miles.

“We’ll have three full-facility YMCAs built or operated by the YMCA in the last year-and-a-half,” said Moe Bell, Upper Palmetto chief executive officer. “It’s a new way of operating.”

The new site will have pools, fitness areas, a second-level walking track, and basketball courts. It will be similar to the Lake Wylie YMCA, which has 12,000 members.

“The building being built is very similar to (the Lake Wylie) building, but this is a healthier community as far as population and businesses,” Bell said. “So we’ll have more members. Our shining star has always been the Baxter YMCA, which is in Baxter Village in Fort Mill. They have 14,000 members.”

Baxter soon may have to make way for another star.

“When we did the formulas here, and we’re looking straight at the numbers — you know working with the banks and these folks, and they want it right — we’re going to have more than 15,000 members of the Indian Land YMCA within two years,” Bell said.

The new YMCA will have capacity for 200 children, as part of an organization that’s the largest provider of afterschool care in the country.

“A lot of you know us as a place for swim and gym,” Bell said. “And that’s good. But we’re much more.”

Just the beginning?

Jamie Gilbert doesn’t work for the YMCA, but the new site is going to make his job easier.

Gilbert is head of the county economic development office. CrossRidge as a whole, and the YMCA specifically, will be selling points.

“It does check off a lot of boxes for us,” Gilbert said.

Quality of life is key for businesses looking to relocate. When major companies LPL Financial and Lash Group came to Fort Mill, for instance, they touted the Anne Springs Close Greenway as a major draw for potential employees.

“Our neighbors in York County and in Mecklenburg County and in Union County have had these types of amenities for a while,” Gilbert said. “Now we finally get the amenity that we’ve been looking for.”

The new YMCA comes after a recent groundbreaking for the Lindsay Pettus Greenway, and after county voters last fall approved a $19 million recreation bond referendum to fund a variety of amenities.

The new office building in CrossRidge is key too, Gilbert said.

“The impacts are going to be long-term and profound for economic development in this county,” he said.

The area surrounding the new YMCA has 4,100 corporate jobs, Gilbert said. He said he anticipates that number doubling in the next five years. Workforce and available space, he said, always are top issues in recruiting and keeping business.

“This county has lacked real estate product that is either shovel-ready or to have spec buildings,” Gilbert said. “With this announcement this morning that there’s going to be a 75,000-square-foot spec building constructed, this is going to make Lancaster County a magnet for more corporate growth.”

U.S. Rep. Ralph Norman swapped his political hat for his business hat Friday, before putting on a hard hat to participate in the groundbreaking. Norman said any county in his district would be glad to have a project like CrossRidge.

“What they have created here is quality,” Norman said. “I’m a developer. And what they have created here is the quality that will attract so many other businesses. I mean, who wouldn’t like to be here?”

The one thing the new YMCA doesn’t have is funding for an outdoor water park, similar to what the Baxter and Lake Wylie sites have.

“There’s one piece missing,” Bell said.

Bell said he believes it’s an important piece. He said there are no public outdoor pools east of I-77 between Charlotte and Lancaster.

“We need a water park here,” Bell said. “We’re looking for somebody to step up and help us build that.”

David Bellamy with design group LS3P Associates is now working on his third YMCA with Upper Palmetto. His group designs more pools, he said, than anyone in the Carolinas.

“That pool component here is super critical,” Bellamy said. “There’s a vast shortage of pool space. So these lanes here are going to be invaluable.”

A $1 million naming rights package is available for the water park, part of $3.25 million in total naming rights.

Dean Faile, head of the county chamber of commerce, doesn’t debate the impact a new YMCA will have on business development, child safety and other factors. He also said he thinks of YMCA camps and work nationwide when considering what type of community partner Indian Land, and Lancaster County, are getting.

“We talk about quality of life and it sounds good, but quality of life means changing a person’s life,” Faile said. “Being there when they need you. Being there to support them and help them. This is what I think the Y does.”

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