Chinatown YMCA debuts new digs after upgrades

The $22 million, two-year renovation of the Chinatown YMCA officially ended Thursday afternoon.

Hundreds came out to celebrate the opening of the revamped building at 855 Sacramento St., which had been 17 years in the making, according to Ford Lee, Capital Committee chair and one of 20 “old Y boys,” who set the plans in motion in 1993.

“This is a big day for me; we came a long way,” Lee said while looking out at the crowd before the grand opening Thursday. “I grew up in the Y and spent all my teenage days here. The fellowship was amazing. We’re just a bunch of old Y boys paying back.”

The completion of the project comes just in time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Y in the spring. For the first 14 years after its initial founding, the Y rented space at two locations on Stockton Street until 1926, when it raised $14,000 to buy the lot at its current location, according to the nonprofit’s historical documents.

According to city records, it was one of the largest buildings in Chinatown. Now the busiest Y in San Francisco, it has doubled in size to 40,000 square feet after building a 20,000-square-foot addition on what used to be a playground next door to the historic 1926 building, said Jane Packer, director of communications for the YMCA of San Francisco.

The new facility includes a teen center, expanded fitness center, five-lane swimming pool, 24 units of single-resident housing and community space for youth programs and family events.

“This allows us to serve three times as many people as we serve now, not just in the Chinatown community but across all lines,” said Chuck Collins, CEO of the YMCA of San Francisco.

With increased space, the Chinatown Y is expected to grow from its current membership of 400 to 2,000 by June, membership director Penny Carroll said.

“This lays the foundation in our community for the next hundred years” Collins said.

shaughey@sfexaminer.com

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