Covina YMCA is sold; employees to vacate by April 2

After 67 years, the San Gabriel Valley YMCA will no longer operate out of its building in Covina.

The struggling nonprofit sold its facility on Rowland Street on Wednesday for $1.2 million to businessman Michael Hsu, said CEO Craig Cerro.

Hsu wants to turn the facility into a basketball training center for young people, Cerro said. He also may be willing to revamp the pool and lease it to the YMCA.

“He just needs to get his health department license and when he gets that worked out, we plan to offer swim lessons there. That is our plan with the buyer,” Cerro said Friday.

Cerro stressed that the San Gabriel Valley YMCA – an institution that has existed for 100 years – is not closing.

Instead, it is decentralizing. By offering programs at local schools and private dance studios throughout the San Gabriel Valley, it can still provide recreation and fitness classes for young and old but in a way that meets today’s harsh economic realities.

“We will be the YMCA without walls,” Cerro said.

For example, the Y has offered weight management classes at the Neighborhood Christian Fellowship on Arrow Highway. Summer swim programs have moved south to Los Altos and Wilson high school pools in Hacienda Heights.

The organization will be offering kids’ art, yoga, gymnastics and dance classes starting May 7 at its Puente Hills YMCA branch, 1603 S. Stimson


Ave., Hacienda Heights, Cerro said.


The Hacienda Heights office will be the home of the YMCA’s new corporate offices, he said. Movers will pack up the Covina offices on Tuesday, moving day.

On April 6, the Hacienda Heights Kiwanis Club will hold a service day at the office. More than 200 volunteers are expected to work on renovating and cleaning up the Stimson Avenue facility.

The YMCA is looking to lease or purchase a new piece of property in the same area, Cerro said.

“There has been a request to do more service in Hacienda Heights and Rowland Heights,” Cerro said. He said the YMCA board wanted to offer more programs on wellness to combat obesity and diabetes. The Y recently received a $25,000 grant from Coca-Cola to institute wellness programs, he said.

Many in Covina were saddened last May when the YMCA put its Rowland Street gym, pool and facility for sale. On Friday, board members tried to reassure the community.

“We will continue to serve the community of Covina in many different ways,” said David Hall, YMCA board member and a member of the Mt. San Antonio College Board of Trustees. “It doesn’t require us to have a gymnasium to do that. ”

Cerro would not say exactly how much equity the YMCA realized from the sale. He said there would be cash available after the YMCA pays off some loans. Hall said: “It infuses the organization with equity built up over many years. It puts us on a more solid financial footing to provide these services. ”

Both said the YMCA was losing business to after-school daycare centers and after-school programs at public schools. It also faced stiff competition from private health clubs.

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About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.