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Delayed (again): Why hasn’t downtown Durham Y broken ground? Here’s the answer.

The redevelopment of downtown Durham’s aging YMCA is on hold, again.

Plans to replace the existing gym at West Morgan and Foster streets with two towers — including a 27-story skyscraper — have been pushed back “through the entirety of 2024,” Laura Ferguson, the branch’s executive director, wrote in an email to members Friday.

This is the third time the project’s developers, Chapel Hill’s East West Partners, have hit pause. The project is now three years behind schedule.

Here’s what we know.

Why is downtown Durham Y on hold?

Downtown Durham’s new Y is among a handful of projects set to transform the city’s skyline. But it’s stalled “due to market shifts,” Ferguson said in the 385-word update.

She was unavailable for further comment.

In early 2022, YMCA of the Triangle revealed plans for a “state-of-the-art facility” with two pools, an indoor track and a two-court gym, among other amenities.

The site plan was approved in May 2023.

The taller building is expected to include 300 apartments, while the shorter one — a 12-story tower — would offer 120,000 square feet of office space. They’d be joined underneath by the new YMCA, a parking garage with over 600 spaces and some shops.

But almost a year later, rising office vacancy rates and a tightening lending market is making it harder to close the deal.

“YMCA leaders, volunteers, and partners have slowed the pace of the project to better match the economic conditions,” Ferguson wrote.

It’s not the only development facing headwinds.

Several projects across the Triangle are in a “holding pattern,” including Kane Realty’s Downtown South and Blue Ridge Realty’s Glenwood South development, both in Raleigh.

Ferguson assured members that they remain “fully committed.”

“We continue to examine the best mixed-used composition for this project.”

The site, meanwhile, a staple of the community for more than 25 years and Durham’s busiest YMCA, remains open to the public.

Who is spearheading the project?

After searching for a developer to rework the site since 2018, YMCA of the Triangle announced in early 2002 that East West Partners would handle the project.

Other East West projects include the Liberty Warehouse Apartments and The Bartlett condos in Durham as well as East 54 in Chapel Hill.

As part of the project, East West signed a 99-year ground lease with the Y.

They did not disclose the financial terms of the lease.

The Y has said it expects to use proceeds from the ground lease and a new capital campaign called “The Heart of Durham” to pay for the development.

How much has been raised to date?

To date, The Y has raised $7.35 million in donations, Ferguson noted. But the project’s total price tag could run nearly $23 million.

All funds currently raised have been placed in a separate interest-earning account, Ferguson said.

“Pledged commitments to the campaign remain paused until construction begins,” she said.

Is this Durham’s first 27 skyscraper?

No. If completed, it would be the city’s third 27-story skyscraper. That’s about the limit of stories that modern builders can fit under the downtown core’s 300-foot height limit. Builders must seek a variance to go taller.

Durham-based Austin Lawrence Partners (ALP) built the first — One City Center — in 2018.

It’s also currently constructing the second, The Novus, at 400 W. Main St. in the Five Points district. Plans call for 54 luxury condominiums, 188 rental units and 22,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space. It’s expected to be complete by 2025.

What happens next?

Ferguson said it’s critical to raise more money before moving forward.

However, they’re running up against a deadline. The plan is null after four years if there are no active building permits, The N&O previously reported.

That would give the Durham Y until 2027 to secure the required financing.

Durham has three other YMCAs, though the only indoor pool is downtown. There are 19 YMCA locations across the Triangle.

Mary Helen Moore contributed to this report.