Historic Hangar: Hangar Athletic Exchange

Facility Name: Hangar Athletic Xchange
Location: Los Angeles
Opened: November 2008
Square Footage: 70,000 square feet
In a Former Life: An airplane hangar
Cost of Renovation: About $3 million
Fun Fact: The 40,000 square feet of hardwood flooring in the club came from the 2008 regional finals of the NCAA tournament. The club is the largest portable floor facility in the country and the second largest in the world.

Jeff Herdman, a former professional basketball player, scoured the Los Angeles area for six years for the perfect location for his health club. One day, he stumbled across a 50-year-old airport hangar in a Los Angeles community airport. The 70,000-square-foot building had been vacant for a few years and was in disrepair, but he looked past the ceiling leaks and holes in the walls.

"When I walked in the building, I knew it was meant to be," says Herdman, the club's CEO.

The airport hangar offered a large open space with room for six full basketball courts. When Herdman and his business partner, Steve Burnett, took over the building, they spent nearly a year gutting and repairing it. They redid the landscaping, painted the exterior of the corrugated steel building and repaired the holes in the roof. Although they retained the major structural beams and one of the two hangar doors, they invested in new windows, a new ventilation system and three industrial-size 24-foot fans.

Other club owners may have shied away from such an ambitious project, but Herdman and Burnett took it on for three reasons — the size of the building, the location and the amount of acreage. The club is located at the corner of major highways, is parallel to the Hawthorne Airport runway and is a stone's throw from Los Angeles International airport.

"Everything was here and fell into place once we found it," Herdman says. "The land prices around here are very high, and land is just not available in the Los Angeles area."

Close to $3 million later, the Hangar Athletic Xchange recently held its grand opening with almost 1,000 members in pre-sales. Herdman anticipates a return on investment in three to five years. In addition to serving as a health club, the facility also is a high-end training center with a volleyball and basketball academy and sports performance training.

"There's nothing like it out there," Herdman says.

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