Community leaders and officials from the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and Bissell and Ballantyne Corporate Park break ground for Sara's Y, a new YMCA of Greater Charlotte facility in Ballantyne Corporate Park on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. DILLON DEATON ddeaton@charlotteobserver.com
Community leaders and officials from the YMCA of Greater Charlotte and Bissell and Ballantyne Corporate Park break ground for Sara's Y, a new YMCA of Greater Charlotte facility in Ballantyne Corporate Park on Tuesday, June 23, 2015. DILLON DEATON ddeaton@charlotteobserver.com

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‘Sara’s Y’ breaks ground in Ballanytne

By Ely Portillo

elyportillo@charlotteobserver.com

June 23, 2015 04:46 PM

UPDATED June 24, 2015 09:33 AM

Ballantyne Corporate Park will soon have a new, bigger YMCA, named for the late wife of Ballantyne developer Smoky Bissell.

YMCA executives and Smoky Bissell, founder of the influential real estate development company that bears his name, broke ground on “Sara’s Y” Tuesday afternoon under the steaming sun. Named for Sara Bissell, who died in 2009, the facility will be an amenity for office workers in the park and a draw for nearby residents.

“The vestiges of Sara are all around this site,” said Smoky Bissell, pointing to nearby parks and a fitness trail that she helped put in place. He is funding construction with what the YMCA called a “generous gift.” The project’s total cost hasn’t been worked out, a spokeswoman said.

Smoky Bissell said Sara Bissell had deep family ties to the YMCA.

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“Sara’s father, if he were here, would tell you in a minute that the YMCA raised him,” Smoky Bissell said.

Bailey Patrick, chairman of the YMCA of Greater Charlotte board, praised the new facility.

“This new Y will be a living tribute to Sara Harris Bissell,” he said. “Sara had a rare ability to make people feel comfortable, and I’m sure Sara’s Y will do the same.”

The new YMCA is scheduled to open in January 2016 at the corner of Brixham Hill Avenue and Ballantyne Corporate Place. It will replace the nearby Ballantyne Village YMCA, which will close when the new gym opens.

Portillo: 704-358-5041;

Twitter: @ESPortillo

Sara’s Y

Size: 24,000 square feet – almost twice the size of the Ballantyne Village YMCA.

Age range: Adult (16+)

Workout facilities include: Yoga studio designed for hot yoga and classes, TRX suspension training, group exercise classes.

Other features: Rooftop terrace, a cafe, to-go food.