EVERETT — Jack O’Donnell remembers the strong smell of chlorine wafting off the pool in the old YMCA building.
He started to take swimming lessons there when he was 9.
“Any kid my age, and I’m 74, probably learned to swim there if you grew up in Everett,” he said.
The nearly century-old brick building may have a new purpose, but an add-on will be demolished.
Developers last week submitted pre-applications for construction at the site.
The 1920 building would stay, and also be converted into living spaces. In all, there would be 274 units, city records show.
O’Donnell is involved with the Historic Everett preservation group, and wrote a column in The Daily Herald for almost 25 years called “Seems Like Yesterday.”
He’s lived in the city most of his life. Once swimming lessons were finished, he continued to visit the YMCA through high school.
Teen dances were held there every Friday night. He and neighborhood friends would ride bikes there from his home on Colby Avenue.
O’Donnell is happy the draft incorporates the old structure.
“It really is a building that touched my life, and I think it touched a lot of other kids’ lives in the same way,” he said. “There was just a little something all the way through that kept you going there.”
The Everett YMCA was first opened in 1901 on the corner of Rockefeller Avenue and California Street.
It burned down two decades later. It was still smoldering when people began to collect money to rebuild.
Within a month they raised about $183,000. Construction was finished the same year, said Scott Washburn, CEO of the YMCA of Snohomish County.
In 1960 a second gym, a swimming pool and locker rooms were added. Twenty years after that, more renovations provided a third gym, a new pool, sport courts and the reception area.
“None of these additions were connected by elevator, which makes it challenging for our members sometimes,” he said. “That was one of the motivations to look at a replacement.”
Work started last summer on the new $33.5 million YMCA south of 41st Street on Colby Avenue. It’s expected to open in early December, Washburn said. The branch may be closed for a couple of weeks during that time as the center moves.
The organization and prospective buyer have been under contract for about a year, Washburn said. If all goes as planned, he expects the sale to happen at the end of the year.
The contractor is Trent Development, Inc. The company is working with the architectural firm Clark Barnes. Both are based in Seattle.
Early plans say 51 apartments would go into the existing building from the 1920s. Another 54 units would be built in a five-story, 51,729-square-foot complex behind it, where the additions are now.
Another 169 units in a 10-story building are proposed across the street, where there’s now a parking lot. It would be 213,245 square feet, and include about 200 underground parking spots. Space on the ground floor appears to be reserved for commercial use.
Washburn believes downtown will continue to grow and become a place people want to visit. He started to see it when Funko moved in the next street over.
“It’s nice we can preserve the history of the Y on this block, but also be part of the resurgence of Everett,” he said.