Pasadena Drops Talks on Y Facility

Times Staff Writer

In what may be the final blow to the proposed YMCA-YWCA joint facility, the city Board of Directors decided Monday to discontinue discussion of the financing for the project until the Ys obtain a letter of credit to back a bond issue needed to build the facility. “I think the joint project as conceived, absent the letter of credit, is impossible,” said George Baffa, the attorney representing the YMCA.

“If we can’t find a letter of credit, we will have to investigate regular bank financing, which might be too expensive,” said Donna Lewis, executive director of the YWCA. “But we’ve not conceded yet.”

Although no one representing the Ys will confirm that the project at the Civic Center has been scrapped, a site selection committee was formed to explore other areas on which to build the joint facility at a Y board meeting Tuesday.

“The project at the Civic Center is probably out,” said Barbara Martin, co-chair of the joint project development committee. “It’s not really a dead duck in the water--let’s say it’s not a very healthy duck in the water.”


The Ys, which agreed 4 years ago to build a $14-million joint-use facility on the YWCA site, have been trying to obtain a letter of credit since November.

The organizations’ request for such a letter has been denied by three banks because of the Ys’ insufficient assets.

Last week, City Manager Don McIntyre presented the board with three financing proposals but all were turned down. The Ys’ request for the city to supply a letter of credit was rejected because the city would be liable if the Ys defaulted.

The city and the Ys are continuing their search for a letter of credit but they are running out of time. The Ys stand to lose almost $1 million in private foundation grants if they don’t get the letter by April, said Bill Booth, fund-raiser for the project.


Monday’s Board of Directors decision came after a brief discussion of a proposal to use the Police and Fire department’s retirement fund to pay for part of the project. The fund would have been used to buy a portion of the land for the facility; the city would then lease the land back to the Ys. But the board said that a letter of credit would be needed for that plan as well.

During that discussion, the board decided to halt action on the project until the Ys obtained a letter of credit.

“It is not a decision we make lightly or relish,” said Mayor William Thomson. “We’d like to be able to help find financing for this project.”

Although the directors have so far denied financing to the Ys, Lewis said, “the board has gone above and beyond the call of duty to try and find us financing.”


Despite the bad luck, Lewis said the organization will proceed with plans to replace its swimming pool and renovate the parking lot and main building.

Representatives of the YMCA said they will continue with plans to sell the old YMCA building to the Pasadena Housing Alliance and the Los Angeles Community Design Center. The nonprofit agencies want to preserve the 134 single-room occupancy units on the site. They are scheduled to close escrow in February.