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Fitness First Says Bethesda Gym Will Stay Despite Redevelopment

By Aaron Kraut

Thursday - 6/27/2013, 11:25am  ET

Fitness First on Wisconsin AvenueFitness First says it is working on a deal to relocate its Bethesda gym with the developer that is planning to raze its 7904 Wisconsin Ave. property and build a 17-story apartment building.

Fitness First announced it sold 17 of its 18 locations in the D.C. area to Gold’s Gym International. The Bethesda location was not included in the sale because of the property’s pending redevelopment.

Fitness First CEO Peter Harvey told us he intends to keep the Bethesda gym going, but readers were skeptical.

Amy DiPasquale, the chief operating officer for Fitness First, posted the following comment on our post last week about the future of the Bethesda location. We haven’t been able to get in touch with DiPasquale this week. (JBG is the Chevy Chase-based development company on the apartment project):

LET ME CLEAR THE CONFUSION….. JBG is fully aware of our 5 year option to extend. We have met with them several times over the last year. The JBG companies are trying to relocate us to a building 1/2 mile down Wisconsin Avenue so they can proceed with their redevelopment before our lease expiration in 2019. However, due to the fact that the building is a different set of investors from the building we are in now,the economics of the deal must be worked out by JBG . If a deal cannot work out, then we will be holding up their redevelopment project until 2019 and staying in the 7900 location. If they can move us where the economics make sense, then we will have a brand new location, over 18,000 square feet, within the next 2 years! We love the Bethesda market and plan on continuing to service our members for years to come! Thank you

A JBG representative last December said the company was in negotiations with a grocery chain to take over most of the roughly 20,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space in the apartment project, which JBG hopes to break ground on early next year.

Fitness First sent an email to members on Wednesday night about access to the Bethesda gym as the rest of the locations transfer to Gold’s Gym. Harvey says Bethesda members will have their gym “for many years to come”:

It’s official!!! Fitness First has transferred ownership, for 17 of the 18 clubs, to Gold’s Gym International. As part of the deal, we continue to retain ownership of our Bethesda club, and look forward to focusing all of our attention on serving the Bethesda commmunity. We understand that there are lingering rumors and uncertainty regarding the future of that location. However, we want you to know that we plan on operating that club for many years to come. Our lease provides us with the right to exercise a 5 year option, and we intend on doing just that!

Access to the Bethesda location:

If you joined the Bethesda club, you have access to that club an do other Gold’s (former Fitness First) locations. If you do not use Bethesda, but originally joined there, you may cancel at the Bethesda club, and then re-join the Gold’s location of your choice. Please note that this is only allowed if you have fulfilled your original term. If you originally joined any other Gold’s (former Fitness First) location but wish to use Bethesda, you must join the Bethesda club and cancel at the original club in which you joined. You may always opt for 2 memberships.

Please note, we are not charging Fitness First members additional fees to join Bethesda as a result of this acquisition. We wish this transition to be as smooth and painless as possible. Gold’s will be sending a letter in the next couple of days, detailing any information you will need to know, regarding membership options for those that are affected by this acquisition.