CA set to spend extra $1.5 million on gyms

Aim is to diminish impact of proposed mega-facility

August 15, 2004|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The Columbia Association is poised to spend an additional $1.5 million in renovations to the Supreme Sports Club after already dedicating more than $820,000 in upgrades to its fitness facilities while facing the threat of a mega-sports gym competitor.

If the association does not respond to the proposed Life Time Fitness in Columbia's Gateway Commerce Center, it stands to lose between $4 million and $5 million annually, said Rob Goldman, the association's vice president for sport and fitness.

"We're giving our best shot to mitigate the impact of the new competition," he said. "But no matter how successful we are, the one thing that's for certain is that our members are going to have a much better club experience."

Life Time Fitness is planned to open off Robert Fulton Drive next year or in early 2006, and the Supreme Sports Club in Owen Brown is the closest competitor of the Columbia Association's three gyms. The club is also the association's largest, at 110,000 square feet.

The additional $709,000 in capital improvements for the Supreme Sports Club in the 2005 budget include doubling the size of the 800-square-foot spinning studio; expanding the youth sports space and moving the child care area; expanding a 1,500-square-foot studio to 2,300 square feet; and converting the current child care area into a yoga studio.

The $771,000 in improvements for the 2006 capital budget are slated to include adding 1,600 square feet to the current 2,500-square-foot main exercise area; erecting a new front entrance; adding cardiovascular and resistance strength equipment; and installing a cardio theater with multiple television screens.

The board reached a consensus Thursday night to allow the association to move forward on the renovations.

"I really see this as an investment in ensuring that the revenue stream of the corporation continues," Goldman said.

"By doing all these things ... we will save the corporation a considerable amount of money over not having done them at all," he said.

The additional renovations come on the heels of more than $355,500 in combined operating and capital improvements that the board dedicated to the club.

On Sept. 7, the club is scheduled to become a 24-hour operation. It also is slated to undergo a number of capital improvements, including painting the building's exterior, renovating the exterior signs, replacing furniture and adding a plasma television to the lobby. The sports club, along with the Columbia Athletic Club, Columbia Gym and Columbia Swim Center, will also undergo improvements costing $368,000.

The association is also planning to convert the Hopewell outdoor pool, near the Supreme Sports Club, into a major aquatic center. The association has dedicated $100,000 in planning funds to prepare to update the pool with possible amenities such as a spray pad, covered pavilion with snack bar, half-court basketball court, playground and new bath house.

Life Time Fitness typically operates 150,000-square-foot, 24-hour facilities that include two full-size gyms, two indoor pools, racquetball and squash courts, rock-climbing walls, a spa, outdoor pools and tennis or volleyball courts.

Some residents have criticized the association, a nonprofit homeowners group, for attempting to compete with a business. However, the majority of the board said it feels it is upholding the group's fiduciary duties to the corporation by approving such renovations.

"The situation here is the preservation of CA's revenue growth and overall financial health," said board member Cabell Greenwood of River Hill.

Board member Phil Marcus of Kings Contrivance said he believes one of the primary focuses is to retain the club's users who do not live in Columbia and pay higher prices to join association facilities.

For a membership that grants access to most of the association's sport facilities, a resident family pays $702 a year; a nonresident family pays $1,482.

About 42 percent of Columbia's 33,000 households own memberships to association facilities, and another 15 percent have resident cards, enabling them to use the facilities on a pay-as-you-go basis, Goldman said.

"[The renovations] also ensure our residents are happy members," Goldman said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.