The Mayor was adamant in his support of the development. “It’s the young people that we have at the front of our focus for this project,” said Fenty. “The projects, programs and lives that have been impacted by the YMCA are too numerous to mention…You have our commitment that whatever it is– from deferments to operations to transportation to the help of any other DC government agency – we will give it.”
The new $15 million YMCA is the fruit of more 2 years of active development on the part of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington (YMCAMW). When completed, it will include a wellness center, child care facilities, office space, rooftop terrace, community meeting rooms and – as its centerpiece – a 25-meter indoor pool. Although the current facility has been vacated for demolition, its community services have been relocated to various “borrowed” spaces throughout the city.
The YMCA Anthony Bowen has a rich and storied history in the District. The organization was named for a Prince George’s County slave who relocated to Washington after purchasing his freedom; he then went on to co-found the nation’s first African-American YMCA in 1853. The current incarnation of the YMCA that bears his name first opened in 1912 and has stood at its present location since 1978 – a time when the U Street corridor ran rampant with violence and drugs.
“Anthony Bowen had a dream and it’s the centerpiece of that dream that’s become the reality for what we have here today…an unwavering belief that the evils of our past do not dictate the possibilities of our future,” said Angie L. Reese-Hawkins, CEO of the YMCAMW. “We’ve replaced the fear and distrust with families and…people who are committed to the community. This is what the nation’s capitol is all about.”