After receiving a presentation by staff, the city of New Braunfels has decided not to pursue expanding city recreation services into the former YMCA location owned by Resolute Baptist Hospital due to the financial risk.

The specifics

During a workshop Oct. 9, council members considered the possible expansion of New Braunfels Parks and Recreation Department fitness and programming services to occupy the vacated space.

Owned by Resolute-Baptist Hospital, the 22,000-square-foot space is being utilized by the hospital as the HealthLink Fitness and Wellness center until a permanent tenant is found.

“I think it was incumbent upon us to explore this opportunity,” City Manager Robert Camareno said. “It was a good idea, and we certainly have brought you a lot of information about the pros and cons, the opportunities and the challenges.”

The New Braunfels YMCA closed its doors July 14 due to being unable to attract enough members to sustain operations.

“They had very low membership; at the time of closing, they were only at 1,100 members, which is tremendously low,” Assistant City Manager Jordan Matney said.

Multiple residents of New Braunfels have complained to council since the YMCA closed about overcrowding at Das Rec. Residents who used to utilize the YMCA have spoken in support of the city acquiring the facility to maintain the affordability of the recreational facility.

Matney said around 40% of the 17,000 members of Das Rec were active in August and 36% in September.

“As the YMCA was closing, it was also during our busiest months, so we see during the summer months, the population of Das Rec increases considerably,” Matney said.

The framework

In the presentation, council members weighed if renting the recreational space from Resolute-Baptist Hospital would be worth the financial investment by the city. The city determined that it would need to invest in new gym equipment, substantial repairs made to the pump room of the pool, personnel and other maintenance in the facility.

Assistant City Manager Jared Werner said the estimated expenditure for the city would be between $879,000 to $900,000 annually with approximately 5,000 members to successfully operate the facility at Resolute-Baptist Hospital.

“I just think that it's important to understand that this is not a facility that we would own; we would be tenants of this facility,” Matney said. “The site itself is somewhat restricted.”

Werner said Resolute-Baptist has been open to lease negotiations with the city, and the city would invest approximately $800,000 to $1.2 million in upfront costs to open the facility.

“As it's currently designed, that lease would include $1,000 per month and then a stipulation for a certain percentage of revenue above a certain threshold,” Werner said. “And based on how that's currently drafted, we do not think that would set us up to continue to achieve that same level of financial success [as Das Rec].”

What's next?

Ultimately, council provided direction for the city to no longer evaluate moving into the Resolute Center to create a new recreation center due to a lack of confidence in maintaining the targeted membership and positive cash flow.

Camareno said Resolute-Baptist Hospital has multiple interested private parties in the recreational space.

“So with the interest by private operators, if the goal here is to have a gym over in that facility, it's probably going to happen anyways whether we do it or not,” New Braunfels Mayor Niel Linnartz said.

Residents who utilized the former YMCA said they would still like to see the city consider expanding recreation capabilities in the future to keep up with the growth of the community.

“If you really don't choose to do this, well then build us another [Das Rec]. Give us something to go to because the [members] are there, and we need the facility,” former YMCA member Marcia Rogers said.