Jun 7, 2022
YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg
New YMCA will be called the Speer YMCA in honor of the Speer Foundation’s support of the project.
ST. PETERSBURG, FL | 06/07/2022 – Pinellas County Schools and the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg celebrated the start of their highly-anticipated collaborative project to build a joint middle school and YMCA on the 19-acre site of the former Riviera Middle School.
More than 100 guests gathered on the project’s construction site to listen to remarks from several community leaders including City Councilmember Brandi Gabbard; Eileen Long, Pinellas County School Board Chairperson; Dr. Michael Grego, Superintendent; Billy Greene, YMCA Board of Directors Chair; and David Jezek, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.
The joint campus will include a 111,757 square foot two-story building with shared elements to be used by the middle school and YMCA. The middle school will be a health and wellness leadership magnet school for 600 students. The school’s magnet theme and elective offerings will be aligned to the YMCA’s areas of impact: Youth Development, Healthy Living and Social Responsibility.
“We are thrilled to be breaking ground on this cutting-edge partnership middle school,” said Dr. Michael A. Grego, Superintendent of Pinellas County Schools. “This facility, only the second of its kind in Florida, will provide state-of-the-art learning opportunities in a health and wellness magnet program, creating a seamless path for Pinellas County Schools students.”
Students as well as surrounding neighborhoods will have access to the Y’s afterschool programs, childcare services, youth sports, fitness activities, aquatics offerings, community health classes and senior wellness programs.
“While the new YMCA will have many programs to serve the middle school students, it will also have programming and services for everyone – from infants and toddlers to seniors and all ages in between,” said Jezek. “Having decades of experience with the Y, I understand how having access to Y services can impact a community. And I understand how fortunate we are to have an opportunity to embark on this journey with our longtime trusted partner Pinellas County Schools.”
Jezek also announced that the name of the new YMCA will be the Speer YMCA. “The Speer Foundation has deep roots in supporting the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg, including their investment in our Speer YMCA Preschool Academy in south St. Petersburg. We are incredibly grateful that they have chosen to once again invest in our mission to make Y services accessible for even more individuals and families throughout our region.”
“My family has a personal history with this neighborhood, and we know firsthand that it can be a special place to live and raise a family,” said Lisa Speer Vickers on behalf of the Speer Foundation. “It means a great deal to us that education and wellness are at the heart of this endeavor and that neighbors of all ages will benefit from the excellence in learning and programming that will be found here every day.”
Construction is anticipated to start immediately. St. Pete-based Wannemacher Jensen and Harvard Jolly are joint project architects. Construction management is headed up by Creative Contractors. The YMCA is planned to open by fourth quarter 2023, with the school opening with the start of the 2024-2025 school year. The school will be named closer to its opening date.