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By Mark Wineka
Salisbury Post
A downtown fitness center owes its landlord the city of Salisbury more than $50,000 in back rent.
Tuesday Rowan County Magistrate Todd Wyrick granted a two-week continuance in the citys move to evict GX Fitness from the property at South Main and West Bank streets.
Documents filed at the Rowan County Courthouse show GX Fitness owing rent and late penalties of $50,862.
The city charges GX Fitness a monthly rental fee of $2,300.
The eviction proceeding is now scheduled to be heard in small claims court June 5.
City Manager David Treme declined to comment on the eviction proceeding beyond what was in court papers.
The city agreed to and requested the continuance Tuesday in hopes of giving the fitness center extra time.
GX Fitness owner Ken Weaver confirmed Tuesday that the fitness center is behind in its rent.
Rental payments had been made off and on, he said, depending on the cash flow into the business. Some months, he added, the center had to borrow money to stay in operation.
For several years, since the property was sold to the city, the fitness center has been working on a plan to build a new facility in Salisbury, and Weaver said he was trying to stay optimistic it could happen.
Its a great plan that would take very little money to move forward, he said.
Salisbury bought the then Rowan Health and Fitness Center property in February 2003 for $1 million and agreed to lease it to the club for at least three years.
The city envisioned the property as a future site of a downtown convention center, which has never materialized. Weaver said the $1 million went toward paying off previous debts.
In hindsight, Weaver said, the fitness center probably should have shut down in 2003 after selling the property.
Weaver acknowledged that the popularity of the new Hurley Family YMCA, which opened about the same time, hurt his business considerably.
But I believed in what I was doing at the time, said Weaver, who has had an ownership interest since 1995.
He still believes the local market is ready for the new kind of facility he has planned, but rumors have been circulating since March about the fitness centers possibly closing and its being in arrears with the city.
Because of the rumors, potential investors already lined up and existing club members took a wait-and-see attitude that has made raising money difficult, according to Weaver.
Weaver recently sent a personal letter to GX Fitness members and tried to speak to the rumors, while also seeking their help in raising the money necessary to address the rent issue and provide some of the $100,000 in seed money for a new place.
Weaver spoke of hopes of a new club with multiple exercise rooms, several pools, a day spa, wellness center and Internet cafe and said, We have a location in mind that will fit our needs.
He asked the members to consider loans for which they would be repaid in 120 days at 20 percent interest.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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