By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Work Out World Laconia got approval from the Planning Board last night to open a fitness center in the space beneath the downtown parking garage, which most recently housed the Grace Capital Church.
Steven Borghi of Alton, whose identical plan foundered amid dissension with his partners in 2008, has renewed his effort to purchase the property and proceed with the project.
Architect Rob Turpin, representing Borghi, told the board that the 24,000-square-foot building is easily suited for conversion to a fitness center and that apart from lighting and signage there will be no significant changes to the property.
Borghi did not attend the meeting, but earlier said that the locker rooms and showers have been installed and, other than removing walls raised by the church to create offices, little construction is required.There will be space for cardiovascular machines, free weight lifting and an aerobic studio, along with rooms for child care and a tanning salon.
In September 2008, Borghi, who then owned more than 30 Work Out World fitness centers throughout the county, first purchased the property in partnership with Daniel Di Sangro of Roslindale, Massachusetts; Joanne DiSangro of Needham, Massachusetts; and Gabrielle Susi of Canton, Massachusetts; together doing business as Downtown Crossing LLC and Downtown Fitness LLC.
Borghi began advertising for memberships for Work Out World Laconia in November 2008 in advance of a scheduled opening in January. However, when the center failed to open, the New Hampshire Attorney General began receiving complaints from those who paid for memberships. In May 2009, Borghi was charged with two misdemeanor and two felony violations of the Consumer Protection Act. Borghi pleaded guilty in August and was given a 30-day suspended sentence and ordered to refund 240 memberships, while Downtown Fitness LLC was fined $15,000.
Meanwhile, Borghi's partners, the DiSangros and Susi, filed suit against him, alleging he misappropriated funds for his personal use. In February 2010, the partners reached a settlement resting on an exchange of assets. Borghi left the partnership and paid an undisclosed amount of money while the DiSangros acquired the property, which they have now agreed to sell to Borghi.
Along with the space intended for the fitness center, Borghi also intends to acquire the other six commercial units in the complex as well as the parking spaces on the ground floor of the parking garage.
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