Business, Community

Marlborough to welcome the ‘Y’

A development on Scott St is set to go above shops on the main thoroughfare. Photo: Matt Brown.

For decades, its name has been as a place for people across the world to stay – and now YMCA is coming to Blenheim.

The Young Men’s Christian Association is set to open a 90-bed facility in the town centre.

Described by new owner and Blenheim man Robin Sutherland as a “flash packers”, the YMCA will breathe “new life” into the CBD, he says.

“It can be very difficult to find a room in Blenheim, and not just in the normal busy season,” he says.

“Vineyards are one, but also the government is taking a lot of rooms out of the market.”

Founded in London in 1844, the World Alliance of YMCAs is the oldest and largest Movement for youth in the world.

YMCA Christchurch chief executive Josie Ogden Schroeder says the opportunity helps solve a “significant” accommodation shortage while also allowing the YMCA to reach out into the community.

“It is our intention that our contribution to Blenheim extends over time to more than just accommodation,” says Josie.

“Our philosophy is not to come into a community and deliver in competition with others.

“Where we work best is in partnership with others, using our skills and resources to meet gaps in provision whatever they may be.

“We are really looking forward to how we can add value to the area of Marlborough and meeting a need in the accommodation market is just the first step.

Robin says working drawings, a two-month process, is halfway completed.

“It’s a matter of process, but you can never take anything for granted,” he says.

“The strange thing about Blenheim is its bloody hard to find a bed in winter, because of the vineyards.

“People that otherwise might stay at backpackers tend to graduate up to find a room in a motel.

“The YMCA business model is quite interesting which is why we started talking to them.

“There’s a wide range of rooms on offer, hopefully to suit all sorts.”

He says the business community had been very supportive with the project being very well received.

“It might help our failing CBD to get a bit of life into it,” Robin says.

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