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By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
GX Fitness, which is some $50,000 in arrears to its landlord, the city of Salisbury, hopes to pay half its debt and avoid an eviction ordered Tuesday in Small Claims Court.
Rowan County Magistrate Todd Wyrick ruled in favor of the city Tuesday and entered an order for eviction.
GX Fitness has 10 days to appeal to District Court for a de novo hearing or reach some kind of arrangement with the city to avoid eviction, according to attorney Andy Abramson, who represented Salisbury in Small Claims Court.
GX Fitness owner Ken Weaver met with City Manager David Treme Wednesday afternoon.
“We had a good meeting,” Weaver said. “We’re wanting to work this out.”
Weaver said he promised to get a payment of roughly $25,000 to the city next week, with the promise the business will keep its rental payments current from that point.
The city expects GX Fitness to be out of the building by June 2008, Weaver said. By then, he hopes that his new business plan will be coming to fruition.
Weaver has raised some funds through loans from club members.
“The club’s actually going great, but there’s no cash flow,” Weaver said Monday.
The fitness club is located at 313 S. Main St.
In 2003, the city paid GX Fitness $1 million for the property in hopes it could eventually be used for a downtown convention center or as a key component in the redevelopment of the old Empire Hotel across the street.
Weaver, who has had an ownership interest in the club since 1995, has said the city’s purchase payment paid off other debts.
GX Fitness has been renting the property since February 2003 for $2,300 a month.
Weaver held a meeting for members last Thursday at the Meroney Theater. He described the gathering as part rally, in which several members stood up and gave testimonials as to what the fitness facility had meant to them “and how they don’t want to go anywhere else.”
Weaver said he left the meeting with some clear directions from the members.
“They wanted the place to stay open,” he said.
One immediate change members supported was going to monthly charges, at a higher rate than what many of the members have been paying.
GX Fitness has a lot of members who joined at a cut-rate annual cost of $99.
Weaver said letters will be going out to members about the need for monthly dues.
Members who joined at the discounted rate will have the option of going to monthly dues of $20. If they still had seven months left on their original agreement, for example, it would be extended to 14 months at the $20 rate, Weaver said.Some members who recently joined have asked for a refund. Weaver said they will be put on a list to receive a refund when the money is available. That could be at least four months, he predicted.Meanwhile, those members can still come to the fitness center during that period.
Weaver said a previous Post story about the fitness center’s owing $50,862 to the city drove home to members that things were serious. It also helped him put all his cards on the table so people could help if they wanted, he said.
Weaver stressed that the money he is trying to raise from members and others are loans that he plans to pay back with interest.
Weaver said he is trying to borrow $60,000 to pay a portion to Salisbury as rent and provide money for a “preferred placement memorandum,” a legal document that would allow him to seek outside investors in his new project.His new business plan envisions multiple exercise rooms, several pools, a day spa, a wellness center, an Internet cafe and other services that he says will be unique to the area.
He even has discussed the former Winn-Dixie building near the Hurley Family YMCA as a possible location.
Weaver explained his new place would not be designed to compete with the Y or take its place. It would be geared toward people ó many of them Baby Boomers ó who don’t like to exercise but need a unique place to get them motivated and stay with it.
The upscale day spa he dreams of would become a destination point, he added. The kind of facility he has in mind has a proven track record throughout the country, he said.GX Fitness has 24 full- and part-time employees and about 1,700 members on its books, according to Weaver.
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Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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