YMCA’s downtown branch to close on Oct. 7, consolidate with Berlin Branch

Babe Weiller Branch is in Main Plaza, which is expected to undergo redevelopment

The Frank Berlin Branch of the YMCA is on South Euclid Avenue in Sarasota. Photo from the Sarasota YMCA website
The Frank Berlin Branch of the YMCA is on South Euclid Avenue in Sarasota. Photo from the Sarasota YMCA website

The Sarasota YMCA has announced that its Babe Weiller Branch in downtown Sarasota will close on Friday, Oct. 7. The facility will be consolidated with the Frank G. Berlin Branch, located at 1075 S. Euclid Ave., which was renovated in 2015, a press release says.

The Weiller Branch lease expires on Oct. 31, the release notes, adding, “Over the last several years, we have worked tirelessly to negotiate favorable rental rates with the landlords, identify funding for the required tenant improvements and locate alternative space. Unfortunately, we have not been successful in these endeavors.”

The release continues, “The combination of declining membership revenue, high downtown rental rates and the cost of tenant improvements has forced us to make the difficult decision [to close that facility].”

A welcome breakfast will be held on Monday, Oct. 10, at 8 a.m., at the Berlin Branch, and a luncheon will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at 11:30 a.m., the release says.

The Main Plaza at 1993 Main St. in Sarasota —which includes the Babe Weiller Branch and the Hollywood 20 theaters — was sold in November 2015 for $18.1 million to two limited liability companies; one of them — Biter Building — is headed by Sarasota entrepreneur Jesse Biter. Since that transaction was concluded, no formal plans have been announced for the redevelopment of the plaza.

The previous sale of the property was a $40-million deal in August 2005; the buyer, Sarasota Main Real Estate, no longer is active, according to state records.

Many of Weiller Branch members’ favorite group classes “will be incorporated in the Berlin schedule (view schedule), and … Weiller instructors will still be teaching those classes,” the release points out. “The Berlin Branch offers additional amenities, including a pool, more studios and classes, larger changing rooms, child watch and larger social areas” in which members may congregate with friends, the release continues.

Any downtown Y member with questions may visit the Babe Weiller membership desk or call 366-6778, the release adds.