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Archive for Thursday, March 1, 2012

Town Talk: Lender seeks ownership of Lawrence Athletic Club over default of $2.4 million loan; New York real estate trust buys downtown property; more on chickens and art

March 1, 2012

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News and notes from around town:

• It sure looks like members of the Lawrence Athletic Club will want to pay attention to what happens to their club in the days and weeks ahead.

Meritrust Credit Union has filed an action in Douglas County District Court seeking to make it clear the credit union now owns the club facility at 3201 Mesa Way, all the club’s equipment, its business name and all other business interests.

The filing comes after longtime Lawrence Athletic Club owner Rick Sells and his Junkyard’s Jym corporation defaulted on a $2.4 million note with Meritrust.

According to the filing, it looks like Sells has agreed to turn the property and the business over to Meritrust. The filing states “Junkyard’s Jym, Inc. has quit claimed its interests in the subject property to the credit union.”

Attempts to reach Sells for comment were not successful.

It isn’t real clear whether Sells remains involved in the management and operation of the club. Eric Bruce, an attorney for Meritrust, was guarded in his comments about the case. He said to the best of his knowledge Sells was still involved in managing the club. As for the ownership issue, Bruce said the court filing was an attempt to ensure no other parties had a legitimate claim to the property or business. The lawsuit indicated there may be other parties that may try to make a claim. One of those was listed as the Lawrence real estate company The Caspian Group.

As we reported in August, The Caspian Group, which is led by longtime Lawrence landlord George Paley, won a nearly $400,000 judgment against Junkyard’s Jym in Douglas County District Court. That ruling stemmed from a lease dispute at 1202 E. 23rd St., which housed Lawrence Athletic Club East before it shut down.

Shortly after Sells lost the $400,000 judgment, he filed for bankruptcy protection. At the time, Sells told the Journal-World that the athletic club had been in business for 27 years and he planned “to be here another 27 years.”

This week, the attorney for Meritrust tried to assure club members the facility would remain in operation.

“I’m confident that everybody involved wants all the people who are working out there to be able to continue working out there without interruption,” Bruce said. “Nobody wants to cause problems for anybody who is a member of the organization.”

But Bruce also acknowledged that another owner for the club likely will have to be found.

“If this goes as we want it to, we won’t own it and somebody else will,” Bruce said. “Meritrust is a credit union. It doesn’t want to own a gym.”

• Speaking of owning things, I told you last week the Urban Outfitters building at 1013 Mass. had been sold by Johnson County-based Jayhawk Equities LLC to a group called OLP Lawrence LLC.

But, at the time, I wasn’t able to find much information about OLP Lawrence or who is behind the venture. Well, I did a little more digging and found it is tied to a New York state real estate investment trust. OLP stands for One Liberty Properties. Based in Great Neck, NY, the company owns about 5.4 million square feet of commercial and industrial space across the U.S. The purchase of the 8,600 square foot Urban Outfitters building is just the second purchase in Kansas for the company. It also owns the real estate where Havertys Furniture is located on Rock Road in Wichita.

I haven’t chatted with anyone at the company, so I don’t know what drew them to the Urban Outfitters site or to downtown Lawrence. On its website, the company generally explains how a property ends up in its portfolio.

“Our analysis focuses on the value of a property, determined primarily by its location, use, and by local demographics. We also evaluate a tenant’s financial ability to meet operational needs and lease obligations. We believe that our emphasis on property value enables us to achieve better returns on our acquired properties and also enhances our ability to re-rent or dispose of a property on favorable terms upon the expiration or early termination of a lease.”

I think that means they thought it was a good deal.

• If your idea of a good deal is a chicken in every pot, you may be disappointed. There won’t even be a chicken in every coop in Lawrence.

What in the name of chicken salad am I talking about? Well, it is that controversial art project that was to involve a public slaughtering of chickens in Lawrence to make a point about how disconnected Americans are from their food sources. If you haven’t been following our reports on CNN (the Chicken News Network), local artist Amber Hansen received a grant to stage an art project calling for a coop of chickens to be displayed at various locations around town, and volunteers would help care for the birds. The exhibit was slated to end with public slaughtering of the birds, which then would be served up as a meal.

But then earlier this week, Hansen said the project would be changed to comply with a City Hall interpretation that the public slaughtering would violate the city’s animal cruelty code. Hansen also was notified of several regulations she would have to meet if she even wanted to keep chickens on a piece of private property as part of the exhibit.

Hansen, though, told me the project would go on in some form, although it wouldn’t involve a public slaughtering in the city limits. I thought perhaps, though, the project may include a slaughtering outside the city limits that Hansen would film or photograph to make her point. (Not that I’m sitting here with a bib on rooting against the chickens or anything.) But that won’t happen either.

Instead, Hansen plans to have an empty chicken coop on display at various places around Lawrence, beginning on March 30. The show will end on April 21 at the Percolator art gallery, 913 R.I. Local chefs will share and prepare some food with the community, but Hansen stresses that “chickens will not be displayed, nor slaughtered and eaten as part of the project. Instead, a handful of invited speakers will share stories about their experience caring for chickens with an open discussion to follow.”

If your interest in the project hasn’t been killed, you can check out Hansen’s blog to find out more about where the project is heading.

(By the way, I googled Chicken News Network. There might actually be a real one of those, and I wanted to make it clear I do not work for them. But, I can pass along the number of my agent.)

Comments

oneeye_wilbur 2 years, 1 month ago

OLP claims to make investments of $2,000,000.00. Does anyone think they paid that much for the building in downtown Lawrence? Pity the occupant who has to deal with a net lease and be responsible for property taxes, insurance, and maintenance. If the county values the building at $2,000,000.00 the taxes will require a lot of stuff to be sold from the place.

If you want to make 7.49% return buy some OLP stock.

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juma 2 years, 1 month ago

I thought the recent city code to allow pot belly pigs was so Billy E. jr. could have some homemade BBQ after the basketball games. Now you say he can't kill them little pigs by the pool?!

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Bob Forer 2 years, 1 month ago

Sells would have never gone bankrupt if he had simply prayed a little longer and harder to his Lord and Taylor.

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TheStash 2 years, 1 month ago

I am amazed at the number of people, presumably growing up in cities, that have no idea how meat comes to appear in their meals. I grew up caring for chickens, beheading chickens, cleaning and plucking chickens, and cutting into pieces. Everyone needs to at least understand that each of these steps in needed before you can eat chicken.

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captainrex 2 years, 1 month ago

I am from Emporia and I am so happy that there is a Genesis Health Clubs here in town now. What they did to that club in Emporia is amazing. Can't wait to see what they do to the club here.

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Benjamin Roberts 2 years, 1 month ago

LAC has struggled ever since Larry Hime passed away.

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JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 1 month ago

maybe the city could buy it and make it the new west lawrence rec center...

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guess_again 2 years, 1 month ago

Is the under-counter steroid shop still operating?

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BornAgainAmerican 2 years, 1 month ago

Better tell my wife. I really don't know how long she's been going to the LAC off 6th Street. Probably since it opened. What's that been 20 or 30 years? she has many friends who exercised there as well.

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g_rock 2 years, 1 month ago

Why am I really craving a pint of Guinness now?

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FlintlockRifle 2 years, 1 month ago

Ops, the "Y" is to close to the "T" on my keyboard, guess I'm not ready after all

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FlintlockRifle 2 years, 1 month ago

Gandalf, like your idea of a yurkey shoot, got the ole flintlock loaded, just need a little power in the flash pan, and away she goes---

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FlintlockRifle 2 years, 1 month ago

Gandalf, like your idea of a yurkey shoot, got the ole flintlock loaded, just need a little power in the flash pan, and away she goes---

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Paul R Getto 2 years, 1 month ago

"....public slaughtering would violate the city’s animal cruelty code...." === Perhaps, but it's cruel to feed those mechanically separated chicken parts to human animals as well. I cannot believe this became a big issue. This stuff will kill ya..........for example: http://www.newsoxy.com/health/girl-17-eat-mcnuggets-hospitalized-19-51994.html

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Jimmy 2 years, 1 month ago

I'd love seeing new management take over the LAC. If their rates were competitive with Genesis, I'd switch back. Heck, I'd be excited to see Genesis take it over!

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Richard Heckler 2 years, 1 month ago

Urban Outfitters may be the next to shut their doors. Depends on how much the rent is increased.

Knology being bought up may have some back door changes. Of course there will rate increases whether it be an outright rate increase of less services for the same money remains to bee seen. Lay-offs will likely be part of the deal.

Where do banks get the money to finance these inflated price buyouts? BUSHCO rides again.

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Rara_Avis 2 years, 1 month ago

“Meritrust is a credit union. It doesn’t want to own a gym.” Credit Union? Yah, so is Bank of America. George Paley, super nice nice guy, super shrewd businessman. The guy would chase you to your grave for the last nickel. Rick Sells, shady at best. Maybe they'll all go down together.

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Rara_Avis 2 years, 1 month ago

Rcik could definitely use some exercise. Have you seen him in the last 10 years?

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Benhere2long 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm guessing Its probably about time for another "unsolved, mysterious" fire at LAC. There hasn't been one in Lawrence for a few years and the last one at Junkyard's worked so well. It bought the gym another 20 years. Maybe the LJworld will report about it when it happens, and that'll be the last we hear about it...as has happened with virtually all of the other big, commercial fires in town.

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somedude20 2 years, 1 month ago

Just in time for the gym closing........the deep fried McRib http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/eats/a-better-mcrib-mcdonald-deluxe-mcribster-bacon-cheese-debuts-austrua-article-1.1030759

Battered, fried, chesses, bacons, weird spit, enjoy The McRibster is in da house

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patkindle 2 years, 1 month ago

i hate to see folks lose money on a membership but anyone that has to pay some one to exercise doesnt get alot of sympathy from me

if they have that kind of money they should lose it

like folks that pay money for diet food?? never have got my head wrapped around that one about as bad as buying a bottle of water

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0day 2 years, 1 month ago

Isn't there a new gym downtown? The summit or something. If you don't mind working out next to yuppies it might be a decent place to work out with new equipment.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

I always liked the fact that Rick and his wife had two 'reserved' parking spots right by the front door. I've never seen any other business do that. Nothing says 'I put myself before my customers' quite like that.

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g_rock 2 years, 1 month ago

What is the deal with gyms and Lawrence? The other ones are come and go. LAC came back after the fire, but their other locations have come and gone. I don't know. I'm pretty darn happy with Body Boutique in knowing that they will stick around.

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Gandalf 2 years, 1 month ago

How bout we have a good ole fashion turkey shoot, like SGT York?

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mustrun80 2 years, 1 month ago

Lawrence needs a real healthclub. LAC sucks. That new place on Iowa is ok but has no windows and is in a dumpy old movie theater.

I was really hoping 24 hour fitness was going to buy the old Food 4 Less and totally remodel it into a gym worthy of a town of almost 100,000 people. It was a good central location for all. Oh well.

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labernat 2 years, 1 month ago

I am not surprised about LAC. Rick Sells is a terrible manager/owner! People abuse the equipment and nothing is done about it, despite complaints. You can go in on any given day and at least half of the treadmills are out of order. As a member I hope LAC doesn't go out of business, however I wouldn't be surprised.

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rockchalk1977 2 years, 1 month ago

"local artist Amber Hansen received a grant " because, like most goofy art projects, it had no free market value. I'm glad Gov Sam stopped funding nonsense like this.

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NewbieGardener 2 years, 1 month ago

Re: the chicken slaughter section, how was the proposal in violation of the city's animal cruelty law? If the slaughter is done in a humane manner, it seems like a beneficial display for the public.

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Rara_Avis 2 years, 1 month ago

No wonder I had such an ordeal in dropping my membership last fall. I had a feeling this would happen. It's unfortunate. I'd been a member for 16 years but just couldn't afford it anymore. I guess I'm not the only one in a financial mess. Good luck, Rick.

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