Well, the tea leaves ended up being right on this one: As folks have speculated for more than a week, Genesis Health Club has taken over the operations of the Lawrence Athletic Club.
Employees of LAC, 3201 Mesa Way, were informed of the change earlier today. I haven’t yet heard back from a Genesis representative, but the phones out at LAC are now being answered as Genesis Health Club.
A worker at the front desk said a Genesis official would give me a call soon, and I will report back on what I find.
Until then, details are a little scarce on what, if any, changes are in store. Genesis already operates a health club at 2329 Iowa St. in south Lawrence.
I think lots of folks are assuming that Genesis will operate two locations in town but we’ll try to confirm that, as well as what happens to the memberships that LAC members have paid for.
No word yet on what longtime LAC owner Rick Sells' future may have in store. Based on old stories we’ve done on him, I think he has been in the athletic club business for about 30 years.
UPDATE: I've now gotten in touch with Rodney Steven II, owner of the Genesis chain of health clubs, and he confirmed that the change over did indeed occur at noon today.
Steven said part of the agreement was for Genesis to honor all existing LAC memberships. He's on site at the club today handing out new membership cards. Hours of the facility also won't change.
But what will change is that members should expect a major remodeling of the facility, which was bought — not leased — by Genesis. Steven said he hopes to start construction soon on a project that will change the exterior of the building and really be a complete remodel of the interior space. He said that will include new weight and cardio rooms and equipment, new locker rooms and new furnishings.
"We usually spend millions of dollars outfitting and remodeling a club," Steven said.
Steven said he hasn't been able to do that at the Genesis location at 2339 Iowa St. because he has been unsuccessful in purchasing the real estate of that location. Steven said the south Iowa Street location will remain open for the foreseeable future, and he said the company's long-term plan is to operate two locations in Lawrence. But Steven made it clear he likes owning rather than leasing, so he stopped short of saying whether the company will remain at the South Iowa location for the long-term.
Steven said he hopes to have the remodeling work at the former LAC spot completed by September or October. He said the club will remain open during construction, which will be done in phases to minimize disruptions to members.