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VOL. 118 | NO. 163 | Thursday, September 9, 2004

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By Andy Meek

YMCA Project Starts in Olive Branch

Build-to-suit arrangement marks new territory for YMCA


The Daily News

Thanks in part to Olive Branchs residential boom, the YMCA of Memphis and the Mid-South recently approved details of a unique arrangement to open its newest location in the North Mississippi town. The facility is now under construction at the corner of Goodman Road and City Center Drive.

Quicker growth. David Kelly of Kelly Cos. Inc. Realty said the YMCA has approved the groups first build-to-suit arrangement for a new 10.5-acre YMCA location in Olive Branch, a move that means the facility will be finished all at once instead of in phases. And that, among other things, could allow the groups membership numbers to climb faster once the building is finished, he said.

The theory is that by having the full facility on day one, their membership numbers will ramp up much faster and allow them to offer more programs and services from the very beginning, Kelly said.

The 45,000-square-foot facility will have two indoor pools and one outdoor pool, as well as a full-size gymnasium, two racquetball courts, an aerobics studio, fitness center, teen center and meeting rooms. It is scheduled to be completed in April, and The Kelly Cos. Inc. Realty is managing the development process. The facility is being built by Memphis-based Chris Woods Construction Co., which is also building the Markets of Cherokee shopping center near Goodman Road.

New territory. Chris Woods, owner of Chris Woods Construction Co., said the build-to-suit arrangement is not how the process usually works for the YMCA.

They usually go buy the property, then hire an architect and contractor and build the building, he said. (This arrangement) will free up their capital, and the advantage is they dont have the capital expenditure for the building or the site.

They found a developer, went to them with their needs and he is building the building through us and leasing it back to the YMCA.

Kelly said the YMCA has an option to purchase the facility at any time. And Woods estimated the projects total construction expense at about $5.5 million, not including the interior finish.

Important attraction. Vickie DuPree, executive director of the Olive Branch Chamber of Commerce, said construction is well under way. The concrete slab will soon be poured, and the driveway has already been installed.

And when its completed, the facility should be an important attraction in the town, DuPree said.

At this time, the Olive Branch area does not have any kind of public pool, and we have one country club, she said. So its going to enhance our community as far as having another recreational area and place for children for summer programs.

Commercial boom. DuPree added that the YMCA is one of many projects that have come along due to the areas recent growth.

FedEx is going to have their ground delivery system that they bought property for, and I really see Olive Branch in the next few years really booming commercially, she said.

She pointed to recent developments such as the 150,495-square-foot Lowes Home Improvement store, which recently opened in Camp Creek Center, and the 140,000-square-foot Home Depot store in the Crossings at Olive Branch that is coming soon. The Home Depot project also will include outparcels allowing for spin-off development, she said.

Malco Theater is on-line, and I think they have moved up their timetable as far as when theyre going to build just because of the growth of the area, Dupree said.

The 10-screen theater originally was scheduled to be built this fall.

Olive Branch also has been flexing its muscle as a premier industrial location within DeSoto County. Trex Corp., a decking material manufacturer, is building a 460,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in the town expected to employ 225 workers. And cosmetics manufacturer J. Strickland & Co. has a 340,210-square-foot manufacturing and distribution plant under construction.

More rooftops, families. But it was mostly residential growth that attracted the YMCA, DuPree said.

And its not slowing down they did a market study of the area a couple of years ago to see if there was potential, and the study came back that this was a growth area, she said. They knew within a certain mile radius they would have enough participants to merit having a YMCA.

When it comes to the factors that are continuing to attract new residents, DuPree believes a number of issues are at work.

We have a good school system, and we just passed a bond issue to build more schools, she said. We have a good tax rate. Our sales tax rate is lower than across our state line in Tennessee, for example.

Mostly, though, DuPree believes the growth comes down to the small-town charm she said many residents find lacking in other communities.

Were a friendly environment, and were growing families, DuPree said.


PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289