The mood was a somber one at World Gym on Thursday night as employees of the health club, 10 of them in all, completed their last shifts in the dimly-lit, quiet storefront by packing up everything the company owned onto a box truck.
Most of the workers were shocked at the news, and one reader who contacted Patch said she was in the middle of her workout when someone came in the room and said they were closing.
One of the former World Gym staff, Amanda Henry, said, “I don’t think there’s much to say. I just think everyone’s surprised by the news.”
Andy Myers, district manager for the California-based company, said the business closed, in part, due to financial reasons. He said they were unable to reach an agreement on rental terms with the property owner.
Myers said one of the underlying causes was the cost associated with installing a new exit door either through the back or front of the space, something the city was requiring due to code. While World Gym, 1453 Market St., was not responsible for the cost of adding the exit to the building, Myers said, the property owner wanted to readjust their lease to pay for the new exit door. The cost of installing a door on the back of the building was an estimated $50,000, and the cost of constructing it on the front was an estimated $27,000.
“We can’t pay that,” Myers said.
Myers said there was pending litigation between the city and property owner over the exit door issue, and, as he understood it, the property management company, Collier’s International in Rosemont, tried to get a continuance in order to have more time to find a solution, and it was denied.
“I just think the city has them all up against the wall,” Myers said. “Is there a way around it? I don’t know. Do I blame the city? It’s hard to say. They might just be doing their job as well.”
Myers said for members, they were either on an annual membership, or paid month-by-month. He said members who signed up for paid-in-full memberships will be refunded their money, and will receive a letter in the mail in the next several days with a notification of the closure and information about refunds.
Myers said anyone who was owed full-months worth of membership payment would be refunded. However, partial-month payments would not be refunded. In other words, Myers said, if someone signed up Nov. 1, and the gym closed Nov. 15, they will not be refunded for the remainder of November.
If someone is concerned about receiving their refund because they moved or had some other change in address, Myers said, they can contact ASF International, the company that bills patrons for membership.
Wanted: One Health Club
Not all the of the exercise equipment was packed up by World Gym workers when it closed on Nov. 15. A sizable amount of the equipment is owned by the property owner, World Class Capital Group, Myers said.
World Gym took over the business in mid-2010, after the former gym, Flex, fell behind on lease payments, went out of business, and their equipment was seized, Myers said.
Due to the size of the facility, approximately 8,500 square feet including the bathrooms, Myers said, the additional exit was being required by the city. He said if the space were broken into multiple units, maybe that would change something, but either option is costly. He said the leasing agent was likely to attempt to find another health club to fill the space.
Other health clubs in the area:
World Gym is the latest in a series of departures from the commercial and residential development, including Cheeseburger in Paradise and Flower Art Studio, since it opened in 2006.
Here are some previous Metropolitan Square-related stories:
- New Metropolitan Square Owner Working to Revitalize Center published Oct. 30, 2012.
- Des Plaines Names Community and Economic Director published Aug. 9, 2012.
- Public Viewing of Downtown Streetscape Plan to Precede City Council Meeting published June 26, 2012.
- New Metropolitan Square Owner ‘Ready to Deal’ published June 6, 2012.
- Metropolitan Square Foreclosure Stalls Ale House Move published May 3, 2012.
- Des Plaines Flower Shop Replants on Lee Street published April 11, 2012.
- Martial Arts Studio Finds Right Combination for Growth published Feb. 23, 2012.
- Poll Results: Readers Voted for a New Business in Metropolitan Square published Feb. 20, 2012.
- What Businesses Are Needed in Downtown Des Plaines? published Jan. 23, 2012.
- Loan Talks Near for Metropolitan Square Management Company published Jan. 10, 2012.
- Downtown Incentive Programs Overhauled published Nov. 8, 2011.
- Major Renovations Likely for Downtown in 2012 published Oct. 21, 2011.
- Des Plaines Metropolitan Square Phase 1 Project Kicks Off published June 23, 2011.
- Viewfinder: Vacant Storefronts Show Grim Reality of Business in Des Plaines published April 7, 2011.
- Cheeseburger in Paradise's Former Space Not The Only Vacancy Downtown published March 25, 2011.
- Cheeseburger in Paradise Closes Abruptly published March 14, 2011.
- Empty Cup: How Small Coffee Shops Are Drying Up published Jan. 17, 2011.
- Des Plaines Names Director of Community & Economic Development published Dec. 17, 2010.