COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The former Downtown YMCA is poised to become affordable housing, and the developer tasked with turning the historic building into apartments plans on starting construction in early 2025.

If all goes according to the projected development timeline, the first Lofts at the Y units could be on the market by the end of 2025, according to real estate developer Woda Cooper. They will be rented out at 30% to 80% of the area median income, said Jonathan McKay, Woda Cooper vice president of development.

Woda Cooper is seeking Ohio Housing Finance Agency tax credits and financing for the project. If that materializes, it will acquire the building and then plans on three phases of construction, according to the projected timeline. 

The real estate developer won a bid in August to pursue the project. Woda Cooper was selected by the private urban planning firm Columbus Downtown Development Corporation (CDDC) because of its recent affordable housing and historic restoration work, CDDC president Amy Taylor said.

YMCA of Central Ohio sells building earlier in year

The firm bought the building for $1 million in March, according to Franklin County auditor’s records. YMCA of Central Ohio relocated its Downtown services elsewhere in the 2010s when it could not afford to renovate the nearly 100-year-old building, according to Columbus Landmarks, and the building is listed as one of the city’s most endangered sites this year. 

Months of discussions came before the sale, Taylor said. 

“When the YMCA decided to move out of downtown Columbus and leave the 40 West Long Building, we felt it was vital that we keep this in the hands of people who really cared about downtown,” she said. “It’s a phenomenal building, it’s historic stock, it’s beautiful on the outside, and it really is in an important parcel in its location.”

Now, Taylor is excited by the prospect of adding between 110 and 120 affordable housing units to downtown Columbus and imagines the building’s facade will look “much the same” — but the inside is a different story. 

“It needs to be modernized,” Taylor said. “The YMCA was built in 1924 and it was built in traditionally dormitory style. The units in there didn’t have their own bathroom, they didn’t have their own kitchen. All of those were shared amenities. And as we transition 100 years later, that’s not what we’re looking for in this particular site.”

Based on the timeline McKay shared, construction is projected to finish by late 2026.