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  1. Education

YMCA purchases former Immaculate Conception center in St. Pete

ST. PETERSBURG — The YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg announced this week it has purchased the 63-year-old Immaculate Conception Early Learning Center at 2100 26th Ave. S and is renaming it the Lake Maggiore YMCA Preschool Academy.

Along with the name change will come a renovation next summer creating eight oversized classrooms, a full-service teaching kitchen and a community garden for use by children and families in the program. The school also will be outfitted with smart boards and a media room.

The newly expanded facility also will offer services for families, including financial workshops, parenting courses and wellness classes. Preschool students and their siblings will have access to swim lessons, dance, youth sports and camp at the nearby Jim & Heather Gills Y in Midtown St. Petersburg.

Families at the school also will have the opportunity to participate in supply drives, free family events and a holiday program.

The cost of the purchase and renovation totals about $2.3 million, which will come from individual and corporate donations. The Y will continue to seek additional financial support from the community.

The academy operates in a drastically underserved neighborhood, where an estimated 4,200 children are between 2 and 5 years old. As such, it will benefit from the New Markets Tax Credit program, which gives tax credits to those who invest in low-income communities.