The YWCA property near Pico and 14th has been sold to Santa Monica College.

According to SMC, the Board approved the $5 million purchase on Jan. 17 by a unanimous vote.

The Santa Monica YWCA announced its closure in 2016 and the building shuttered at the end of June.

Officials cited a persistent funding shortfall as the reason for the closure.

YWCA operates on a franchise model. Each local branch is a standalone non-profit with its own board of directors. All fundraising and policy decisions are made at the local level and it was the local board that ultimately decided to shutter the facility.

YWCA Santa Monica opened in 1929. It focused on eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. Programs included early childhood development; K-12 life skills and academic enrichment; transitional housing and education; young adult networking and career-building; parent support; and personal and professional renewal.

Some of those programs simply ended while a few were incorporated into other offerings by different local groups.

The YWCA facility includes two parcels at 2019 and 2023 14th Street with a total of 43,400 square feet. In a statement, SMC said “the site offers opportunities for SMC to enhance programs that support student success, ranging from health and wellness services to resources for neighborhood youth and military veterans, to highly motivating programs such as the Pico Promise Transfer Academy, to classes for older adults in SMC’s esteemed Emeritus program. The 14th Street property also offers the benefit of being located on two bus routes, making it easily accessible.”

The YWCA Board will use the money to establish a donor-advised fund at the California Community Foundation. That fund will award grants to nonprofit organizations in the Santa Monica and Westside that are aligned with the mission and interests of the YWCA according to a letter from the Board.

Some community members had opposed the idea of a sale to SMC and the nonprofit Wise and Healthy Aging had mounted a public campaign to purchase the site.

SMC and YWCA officials said the sale was in everyone’s best interest.

“Santa Monica College is exceptionally committed to student success,” said SMC Superintendent/President Dr. Kathryn E. Jeffery in a statement. “We have been able to strengthen our student support programs recently with the availability of new state and private grants. This property will provide more options for SMC as we address how we organize and rebuild our campus over the next few years.”

The YWCA board said the sale allows them to proceed with their plans to fund other worthy causes.

“When the Board recognized, last year, that the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside no longer was financially sustainable due to declining donations, we set in motion a disciplined and prudent process of receiving, reviewing, and vetting a number of bids to buy the property, weighing possible public benefits as well as the value and certainty of each alternative,” said Anne-Marie Spataru, President of the Board of the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside in a statement. “We are pleased that the property will continue in the service of our community and pleased that, upon the closing of this sale, we will be able to move forward with our plans to fund grants to nonprofit organizations that are aligned with the mission and interests of the YWCA Santa Monica / Westside.”

Matthew Hall has a Masters Degree in International Journalism from City University in London and has been Editor-in-Chief of SMDP since 2014. Prior to working at SMDP he managed a chain of weekly papers...