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YMCA closes long-time New Port Richey gym

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Published:   |   Updated: July 5, 2013 at 04:42 PM

NEW PORT RICHEY - A fixture for nearly two decades near U.S. 19 and Main Street, the YMCA SunTrust Branch has closed.

June 28 was the last day for the YMCA gym at 6130 U.S. 19, inside the SunTrust Bank branch building, according to Julio Vega, district vice president for West Pasco for YMCA of the Suncoast.

A "We've Moved" sign pasted inside the side-entrance door lists the phone number for the James P. Gills Family YMCA.

While the Gills unit of the Clearwater-based YMCA of the Suncoast, in the Trinity area, continues to thrive, "It wasn't feasible for us to keep that site open any longer," Vega said Tuesday.
In recent years, the New Port Richey branch specialized in services for older members. Its Silver Sneakers exercise programs especially remained popular with active seniors, Vega said.

The YMCA hasn't abandoned loyal members in New Port Richey, Vega emphasized. "There's a lot of options," Vega said. It has partnered with four satellite locations at public buildings or other sites to continue Silver Sneakers programs.

One possible locations is the refurbished CARES Elfers Center, starting later this month, Vega said. "We're working on an agreement with them," he said about using the second floor auditorium for exercise programs.

The CARES Elfers Center is waiting on certification from insurer Healthways before authorizing the YMCA exercise program, according to its director, Evie Parks. She then hopes to contact the local Silver Sneakers participants and welcome them with a pancake breakfast and tour.

"We are expecting that to happen in the next 2-3 weeks," Parks wrote in an email.
When it first opened, the SunTrust Branch Y was the only game in town for YMCA members. The Gills Branch, at 8411 Photonics Drive, would not open until April 1998.
Memories have grown a bit fuzzy over the years, but Vega believes the New Port Richey facility began about 18 years ago.

The YMCA branch survived several bank mergers involving Barnett Bank, NationsBank, Huntington Bank and Bank of America. SunTrust Bank continues to occupy the building since about 2001.

At that time, speculation focused on West Pasco Chamber of Commerce possibly moving into the building alongside the YMCA if SunTrust decided to sell the parcel. But the bank kept the location at 6128 U.S. 19.

The New Port Richey YMCA closed about seven weeks after The Suncoast News moved out of its former building at 6214 U.S. 19, which is next door. The Suncoast News relocated its news and advertising offices to 8609 Regency Park Blvd., Port Richey.

Prudential Commercial Real Estate FL is listing the vacant former Suncoast News building, which has more than 24,000 square feet, for $1.2 million. The building is owned by Media General, the Richmond, Va., company that formerly owned The Suncoast News.

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