The Privileges of Ownership

The Lexington Club and Health Development Corp. reinvest in their facility

LEXINGTON, Mass. - A club operator that rents space may dream of expansion, but that dream will never become reality without the landlord's approval. An uncooperative landlord can create problems for operators hoping to renovate.

The Lexington Club, however, no longer has to deal with those problems. Health Development Corp. (HDC), Lexington's owner, recently exercised its option to buy the club's building and grounds from the landlord. We want to be able to reinvest in our property, and by owning it, we can do that much more efficiently," said Phil Bonomo, HDC's director of strategic marketing.

"By owning the property, that takes away the need to gain approvals, et cetera, from the landlord because we are the landlord," he added.

As the new landlord, HDC has already spent $250,000 on renovations. HDC has repurposed Lexington's basketball court, creating approximately 20,000 square feet for additional cardio and strength-training equipment. The club has also gotten a new group exercise studio and a new studio for group cycling.

This expansion is bad news for Lexington members who liked shooting hoops, but good news for everybody else. "I think we've disappointed a few dozen people who use [the basketball court], but I think we're going to really excite the marketplace with this greatly expanded fitness and strength exercise component," Bonomo offered. "I think the upside is much greater than keeping the basketball component."

In addition to Lexington, HDC operates six other clubs -five in the greater Boston area, one in Nashua, N.H. However, all of these clubs reside in rented properties. Lexington was the first property that HDC purchased.

"Hopefully, it won't be the last," Bonomo said.

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