Member Spotlight: Kirk Family YMCA

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The Kirk Family YMCA received a 2022 Capstone Award in the Adaptive Reuse category by The Kansas City Business Journal.

Introducing the Downtown Council Member Spotlight

The Member Spotlight will showcase Downtown Council member companies and organizations, and the roles they play in contributing to the quality of life in Downtown Kansas City, on a regular basis.

Spotlight on the Kirk Family YMCA, 222 W. 11th St.

While the Kirk Family YMCA may be a newcomer to Downtown KC, its physical and spiritual roots qualify it as an old soul in the heart of Kansas City. 

The YMCA was founded in 1844 London, some 177 years prior to the opening of the Kirk Family YMCA. Adding more romance to its story, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City chose to renovate and adaptively reuse the historic Lyric Theatre, circa 1926 (and vacant since 2012), to bring it back to life as the Downtown Y in 2021.

The resulting, 4-story Kirk Family YMCA is half historic preservation and half new construction. The facade was preserved, and the interior incorporates original marble floors and the ornate ceiling. The facility is the first full-service YMCA in Downtown since 1984.

“The Kirk Family Y serves as a welcoming and inclusive community resource that includes programming to support the needs of young professionals, families with children, and empty-nesters,” said Garry Linn, senior vice president of operations. “It provides life-strengthening opportunities for all ages, including students at the Crossroads Charter Schools who participate, take swimming lessons, and play sports on the outdoor fields.”

Kirk Family YMCA representatives greet visitors in the historic lobby entrance. From left, Janelle Hilger and DaKari Burrell, member representatives; Garry Linn, senior vice president of operations; and Paula Oxler, vice president, marketing and communications.

The Downtown Council played an essential role in assembling the team of Downtown civic, business, and philanthropic leaders to turn the Kirk Family YMCA from a dream to today’s reality. 

The Downtown Y features state-of-the-art fitness, youth, and family activities, swimming, an outdoor turf field, community meeting spaces, and volunteer engagement. Linn said the community spaces serve as the Downtown Y’s home for community engagement, workshops, volunteer training, and events.

These are just a few of the ways the Y is helping the Downtown residents and commuters stay well in body, mind,  and spirit,” Linn said. 

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City has been a member of the Downtown Council since 2008, as the Y set its sights on becoming a part of the renaissance of Downtown KC.

“Membership in the DTC allows us to keep other organizations and individuals updated on any highlights that may be taking place at the Y and inform them of the impact we make in the community,” Linn said “The Downtown Council helps our Y identify gaps that we may be able to fill in the Downtown community and continue the mission of the Y of building community impact.”

Linn cited four specific areas where DTC membership has routinely benefitted the YMCA: networking opportunities, informing DTC members about Kirk Family YMCA news and programs; learning insights about the Downtown community; and attracting the best and brightest volunteers.

“When we heard there was a chance to give the Y a bigger footprint in Downtown and repurpose the former Lyric Theater at the same time, we jumped at it,” said Sean O’Byrne, DTC vice president. “Having the Kirk Y in Downtown does more than provide a terrific service; it attracts individuals and families back to the City core. 

“The Y is terrific asset to the Downtown community, Crossroads Academy, and to our many visitors.”

Click here to learn more about membership in the Downtown Council of Kansas City.