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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2006
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Gym open again
Downtown facility passes inspection

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com· 340-2442

A Decatur fitness club abandoned by its former owner is open for business again, following the completion of the first of two city inspections.

Dawn Hendricks cited structural concerns among her reasons for closing the Decatur Athletic Club on Friday. It is the city’s only commercial fitness center downtown. But the building’s owner, Byron Vann, said the structure is sound and he repaired the leaking roof.

“Is it a safe environment? Sure it is,” Vann said of the ceiling and the floor, which holds 20,000 pounds of weights and equipment. “It’s supported by 2-by-14 (foot) wooden beams. It’s not going to fall through.”

Vann said he installed new plumbing and wiring and that all but one of the air conditioning units have been replaced.

David Lee, an inspector with the city's Community Development Department, said he inspected the building late Monday afternoon and saw no outward signs of structural failure.

"I didn't note any deficiencies other than some slightly damaged ceiling tiles," Lee said.

Lee said only a structural engineer would be able to determine if the floor is adequate to support the equipment.

The club obtained a roofing permit through the city Building Department in October. Building Director Jimmy Brothers said an inspection of the work would soon follow.

"The owners have indicated the roof is finished," Brothers said.

"The inspection will only be on the roof covering. We'll look at the roof membrane and see if it is draining because if water pools up there, it's going to leak again."

Same hours

Vann said he would keep the gym at 219 Second Ave. S.E. open during its previous hours of operation seven days a week. He said he managed the gym for 20 years prior to Hendricks, who took over in 2005. Vann said he's searching for someone to resume operations.

"I have talked to two national chains," he said. "And they have expressed interest in coming to Decatur."

Vann didn't name the chains, but said the new owner couldn't be held responsible for contracts sold by Hendricks. Some gym members, who signed yearlong contracts and paid Hendricks in advance, have apparently been left holding their gym bags.

'Seamless transition'

"We'll take 12-month contracts," Vann said. "But it would be set up on monthly payments, not prepaid. ... It'll be a seamless transition from me to the next person. I'll still be there."

After Hendricks locked the doors Friday and recommended members join Bender's Gym on Wimberly Drive Southwest, Vann opened the Decatur Athletic Club on Saturday.

Members said many familiar faces have returned, citing reasons such as convenience and price.

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