Marianne Schaefer in Bricks & Bucks on November 7, 2018
Michael Berenson, president of the property management company Akam Associates, verges on the ecstatic when he talks about the latest amenity coming to the massive 1,830-unit Windsor Park co-op in Bayside, Queens: “It’s just unbelievable! I’ve never seen anything like it in an existing co-op! It’s just terrific! It’s going to be incredible!”
Berenson’s ebullience is understandable. The co-op’s contractor just broke ground on a state-of-the-art fitness center that will put most city gyms to shame – and add to Windsor Park’s already-impressive amenity offerings that include an Olympic-size swimming pool and tennis and basketball courts on a property that sprawls across 46 acres.
“The gym is going to be a free-standing facility near our pool and our tennis court facilities,” says board president Larry Kinitsky. “It’ll be 5,500 square feet, all on one level, and the building will have an 18- to 20-foot -high ceiling that will give it the illusion of being even larger. So when you look up, you will not have a ceiling right on top of your head.”
Construction started about two weeks ago and, depending on the weather over the coming winter, the board hopes to have the fitness center open for business next summer. The new gym will have everything one would expect from a state-of-the art fitness or health club – not just cardio- and weight machines, but also a dedicated spin room, an aerobics room that will hold 35 people, plus personal trainers and 20 group classes per week in zumba, kickboxing, yoga, strength-training, and other activities. “It will have just about anything you can imagine,” says Kinitsky.
The co-op will charge a monthly fee for the gym, but it will be lower-priced than other full-service gyms in the area. “Most of us around here who belong to a gym have to get in a car and drive 10 or 15 minutes to get to the facility,” says Kinitsky. “Finding parking is also not easy. That’s discouraging to a lot of our residents. Having a gym onsite is a tremendous amenity.” It also means there will be one less excuse for those slackers who resist getting into shape.
Berenson points out that such a facility has benefits for shareholders that go beyond amping up their physical fitness. “In addition, it will enhance Windsor Park property values,” he says. “We think people would rather move to Windsor Park instead of neighboring buildings, and we know it’s going to improve everyone’s quality of life.”
The gym will cost $2.5 million and is part of a comprehensive $22 million renovation and upgrade campaign under way at the 20-building property. The board has already installed new air conditioners and windows and video intercoms, converted the boilers from oil to gas, and it is currently replacing all 40 elevators.
“In September of 2016 we were fortunate to refinance the co-op’s underlying mortgage,” says Kinitsky. “We were lucky and caught the lowest interest rate in 50 years. So we were able to take out $24 million in cash without increasing our payments.”
The genesis of the fitness center was research. “We looked around to find out what the most sought-after amenities are in today’s co-ops and condos,” says Kinitsky “What do people really want? After talking to a lot of people in the industry, what came back was that the number one amenity, what people really want is a gym or a health club. We started to look at the feasibility and we talked to the residents, and it seems that our community has a real appetite for such a facility.”
And so it was done. The board expects that at least 25 percent of the residents will join the new gym when it opens next summer.
PRINCIPAL PLAYERS – ARCHITECT: Allen + Killcoyne Architects. CONTRACTOR: Fairpoint Builders. MANAGEMENT: Project Management Group, a division of AKAM Living Services.
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