UH Foundation buys YMCA Atherton property for $8 million

Photo: University of Hawaii
Photo: University of Hawaii

The University of Hawaii and UH Foundation have signed an $8 million agreement with the YMCA of Honolulu for the buildings and property that comprise its Atherton YMCA Branch.

The foundation’s first real-estate venture is expected to close in early 2017. The property consists of two buildings, the Charles Atherton House and Mary Atherton Richards House, for a combined building area of over 34,600 square feet situated on approximately 43,107 square feet of fee simple land.

The UH Foundation plans to spend up to $5 million on renovations and upgrades. Eventually, the property will be used for low-cost student housing.

“When the Atherton YMCA building went on the market, UH leadership, the YMCA and our board recognized the value this historic building has for UH, its students and our community,” said Donna Vuchinich, UH Foundation president and CEO.

“We are very excited about this strategic and rare opportunity to acquire a significant historic property adjacent to our landlocked campus and improve our affordable student housing portfolio. The Atherton property is an important part of UH’s history and so is our fruitful 100-year relationship with the YMCA,” said UH president and interim UH Manoa chancellor David Lassner.

Through a lease agreement containing an option to purchase that was approved by the UH Board of Regents, the University will initially lease the Atherton property from the UH Foundation. During the transition period, UH will continue to provide space for the YMCA on the existing Atherton property for a period of one year.

After that, the Atherton YMCA and staff will be provided space, at minimal cost for 20 years in the Queen Liliuokalani Center for Student Services building on the UH Manoa campus.

“Having a location on the Manoa campus will allow the continuation and expansion of the Atherton YMCA’s programs and mission work focused on youth development, leadership and community service,” said Michael Broderick, president and CEO of the YMCA of Honolulu. “This was an important factor in our decision to accept the offer from the University of Hawaii Foundation.”

Atherton YMCA offers several programs that support college and high school students, such as the YMCA College Camp, which provides resources and motivation for teens in low-income communities to pursue higher education goals.

The bulk of the original Atherton YMCA property was purchased by the YMCA of Honolulu, then known as the University YMCA, in 1921. The Atherton, Castle and Baldwin families each donated $2,500 towards the purchase of the land.

By the end of the 1920s, the YMCA of Honolulu held the current property today that fronts University Avenue, running from Seaview to Metcalf Streets.

In 1932, the Atherton Family contributed funds for the construction of a three-story cement building, a.k.a. “The Pink Building,” on the corner of University and Metcalf.

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