By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Steven Borghi of Alton, whose plans to open a fitness center beneath the downtown parking garage in 2008 foundered amid dissension with his partners, has renewed his effort to purchase the property and open Work Out World Laconia.
"I'd like finish what I was trying to do before," Borghi said Monday. He said that the 24,000-square-foot building, which has most recently housed the Grace Capital Church, is 90 percent suited for conversion to a fitness center. He said that the locker rooms and showers have been installed and, apart from 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. Downtown Crossing LLC and Downtown Fitness LLC were placed in receivership in July and a month later creditors were informed that since Work Out World Laconia had outstanding debts of more than $100,000 and no source of income they would not be paid what they were owed.
In February 2010, the partners reached a settlement of the lawsuit resting on what Borghi called at the time an "exchange of assets." Borghi left the partnership and paid an undisclosed of money. The DiSangros ultimately 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. Originally 36 spaces on the second and third levels of the parking garage along with the southernmost stairwell were also privately owned by Downtown Crossing LLC. However, Di Sangro accepted the city's offer to purchase these elements of the parking garage for $1 and entered a binding purchase and sales agreement to that effect. Consequently, when the transaction closes, the city will own the entire parking garage with no obligation to maintain it to ensure access to the privately owned parking spaces.