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Working It Out: Why Older Buildings Should Consider Installing Gyms

Frank Lovece in Building Operations on January 10, 2013

E. 84th Street, London Terrace, 875 West End Avenue

Older Buildings Reasons Install Gym
Jan. 10, 2013

And that, she says, can effect all apartments' overall resale value. "Everybody who owns in a building thinks there may come a time when they’ll need to sell, and any sale in the building impacts on their apartment's value. Gyms started going into buildings because people really did want that."

That is true, says E. Cooke Rand, an attorney and a board member of a co-op on East 84th Street near Lexington Avenue. His 48-year-old white-brick building retrofitted a gym "probably 10 years ago, and we redid the gym last year, completely modernizing it with 10 or 15 pieces of state-of-the-art equipment, each one with its own television screen. It's been a very popular benefit."

His building is rare because it doesn't charge shareholders to use the gym, considering it an amenity. But for other buildings, a gymnasium can be a continuing source of great revenue for the corporation.

London Bridge is Bulking Up

If you don’t have

a gym, you’re at a

competitive disadvantage.

At the historic London Terrace — the 1930s complex of London Terrace Gardens and London Terrace Towers, with more than 1,600 cooperative units and rental apartments filling the block between West 23rd and 24th Streets and Ninth and Tenth Avenues — shareholders pay $400 and renters $675 annually to use a fitness center with men’s and women’s locker rooms, sauna and steam baths, and a lifeguard-equipped, half-Olympic-sized pool.

Doing it a different way, the 100-unit, 1924-vintage Rosario Candela co-op at 875 West End Avenue at West 103rd Street, charges a $300 signup fee and an annual membership of $250 for one person and $150 for each additional person in that apartment.

As with anything, a gym isn’t a good fit with every building. Observes Jeffrey Weber, a principal of Weber-Farhat Realty Management: "For the larger buildings, it might work. For smaller buildings without 24-hour staff, I don’t think it's good." The added insurance costs might not be cost-efficient with a small number of apartments, and security is an issue. "You’re having a room normally down in the basement that’s now non-secure, and people going down there, maintenance people and other things — it’s a problem for me."

Security, insurance, equipment and maintenance costs, and needing to devise rules — all these things are important considerations for any condo or co-op board. And for most medium and large co-ops and condos, they are totally surmountable, according to attorneys, project managers, board members and fitness-center consultants. So, how do you begin to "work out" the issue? See Part 2 of this article.


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Photo by Carol J. Ott

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