Uptown YWCA exploring major expansion plan on Hennepin

The Uptown YWCA, 2808 Hennepin Ave., is looking to create an expanded facility that incorporates the Walker Public Library and an Allina medical clinic.

Caren Dewar, a real estate consultant hired to facilitate the expansion, said the project is in an exploratory phase, but both Allina and Walker representatives have expressed &#8220strong interest.”

The idea is to reconfigure the existing YWCA or build a completely new facility on the building's current footprint, which includes an attached parking structure. Allina, located at 1221 W. Lake St., and the Walker, which neighbors the YWCA, would move into the new building, Dewar said. Their existing sites would be sold.

The existing Walker Library building, which has developed structural problems, would probably be demolished, Dewar said.

The Uptown YWCA has 6,700 members and has outgrown its space. She said the new YWCA facility would utilize the land more efficiently and combine three nonprofit organizations that have natural synergy. The building could become a community center in the Uptown area, she said. The need for such a place has been discussed during the city's Uptown Small Area Plan development.

&#8220The new facility created by the three partners will play an important role in defining a sense of place for all Uptown residents,” stated a draft discussion document about the expansion distributed at a March Uptown Small Area Plan Steering Committee meeting. &#8220It will be a hub of activity in the urban neighborhood where individuals and families come together for the health and wellness of their bodies and minds, and to renew their sense of community.”

Dewar said she hopes to get firm commitment from Allina and the Walker this summer. Design plans and cost estimates will follow.