September 22, 2005

TCA makes it official: Edens to close

A few weeks ago, TCA seemed to make up their minds and decided to just close the club, after failing to come to agreement with the private group that wanted to purchase the clue. Here is the text of the letter sent to club members:

September 6, 2005

RE: Closing Edens Athletic Club

Letter from TCA

Dear [Club Member], The health club industry has experience explosive growth in the number of new clubs over the last several years. This has created an over supply of clubs in many markets and the Edens market area is no exception. Our small size and racquetball/handball emphasis created an intimate atmosphere, which we all like.

Letter from TCA

However, Edens is not well positions to be competitive with Bally's, Xsport, Galter, Curves, Lifetime and other planned new clubs. Edens has not made a profit for over five years, and we have made the difficult decision to close the club. The last day the club will be open for operation will be September 20, 2005 until 5:00 p.m.

Letter from TCA

A group of members expressed some interest in purchasing the club, but was unable to put an offer together. A neighbor launched a "save Edens" campaign, which has had the unfortunate effect of accelerating the loss of members; the opposite of their intent.

To help you continue with your commitment to a healthy lifestyle, we have arranged for a special offer with Bally Total Fitness. Please see the attached letter for me details.

Once again, I want to thank you for your support over the years. We wish you well.



Steven L. Schwartz


Posted by Tannerman at 10:14 AM | Comments (0) | Trackback

September 22, 2005

Press, 9/14: Edens club to close doors at end of month

Edens club to close doors at end of month; Restaurant sought on site
by Brian Nadig
September 14, 2005

The Edens Health Club, 5130 N. Cicero Ave., will close its doors Sept. 30 after a last-ditch effort by a group of its members to buy the club fell through, and the property's owner hopes to move forward with plans to lease the property for a Wendy's restaurant.

Tennis Corporation of America president Steven Schwartz said that the company, which owns the property and operates the health club, is hoping to arrange a meeting between Wendy's representatives and residents so that their concerns are addressed. "We're looking to work things our (in terms of) sound and lighting abatement," Schwartz said. "Wendy's is willing to make some concessions."

Schwartz said that the project would reduce the amount of traffic in the alley which separates the site from the residences to the west because Wendy's has indicated that it plans to block access to the alley from its parking lot. Currently the alley can be accessed from the health club's parking lot.

Some residents also oppose plans for a drive-through facility at the restaurant. Although the zoning of the site allows for a restaurant, a special use permit is required for the drive-through. The Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to consider the owner's request for a special use at its meeting on Friday, Oct. 21.

Residents also have said that making left turns into and out of the health club parking lot is difficult and have expressed concern that Wendy's would attract more cars to the site.

Although Alderman Patrick Levar (45th) has [said] that he is leaning against the special use permit, the zoning board acts independently of the City Council, and it rarely denies a request for a permit for a drive-through.

Opponents of the Wendy's proposal have circulated petitions against the project and have worked to keep the health club open. Initial plans called for the club to close on July 31, but the closing was delayed in light of the residents' efforts.

Schwartz said that the club has not been profitable over the past 10 years and that it would have been difficult to keep it operating beyond September because many members joined other clubs once they heard about the redevelopment proposal. He said that several years ago the site was considered for a CVS Pharmacy but that the deal fell through because the drug store chain was unable to purchase the adjoining properties which it also needed.

Source: Nadig Newspapers

Posted by Tannerman at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | Trackback

September 22, 2005

Pioneer Press, 9/22: Edens Athletic Club will close Sept. 30

Edens Athletic Club will close Sept. 30
by Amy Le
September 22, 2005

For part-time employee Betty Ginden, the Edens Athletic Club has been more than just a place to collect a paycheck.

Ginden, 42, who is also a member of the club at 5130 N. Cicero Ave., has used the fitness facility for Russian-style kettlebell training. Two years ago, she helped start a Kettlebell Club at Edens, introducing the unique sport and exercise to curious onlookers and fellow members.

But at the end of this month the group will have to look for new training grounds.

In a letter sent to Edens' members earlier this month, the club's management group, Tennis Corporation of America, announced that the facility will officially close Sept. 30.

"I'm really going to miss coming here," Ginden said. "This isn't your typical fitness club ... I know most members by their first name and I know their families."

Edens, a popular full-service health club, has been open for more than 30 years at its current location.

Serious competition

But while area residents and members are disappointed by TCA's decision to close shop, company President Steven Schwartz said slumping membership and an explosive growth in the number of new health clubs in the area led to the final decision to close the facility this year.

"Edens is not well positioned to be competitive with Bally's Xsport, Galter, Curves, Lifetimes and other planned new clubs," Schwartz said. "We haven't made a profit over the past 10 years with the Edens."

While news of the closing was announced to employees in July, Ginden said members had hoped a recent proposal to buy the club -- spearheaded by former Edens racketball operation director Joe Gill -- would keep the building open.

Schwartz said the club was originally scheduled to close on July 31, but he extended the date to allow Gill and his investment group time "to put together a back-up offer," in the case TCA's deal to lease their property to Wendy's International Inc. fell through.

Schwartz told Pioneer Press in July that while his company was willing to look over Gill's offer, in April they had already entered into a 15-year lease agreement with Wendy's for the property.

"It's a shame that TCA doesn't see our group of investors as a viable bid," Gill said. "Had we had more time, we would have had a better chance at purchasing the club."

Permit needed

Gill said his group of investors were given a deadline of Aug. 31 to meet all of TCA's requirements and to match its asking price. Neither Gill nor Schwartz would disclose the proposed selling price for the club due to their confidentiality agreement.

The lease with the fast food giant, however, is still contingent upon Wendy's obtaining a special-use permit for a drive-through facility. Schwartz said the request for the special use was originally scheduled for the Zoning Board of Appeals agenda for July 15.

But opposition to the Wendy's from neighbors on the 5100 block of North La Crosse Avenue moved Alderman Patrick Levar, 45th Ward, to request a 60-day continuance with the Zoning Board of Appeals.

That board is expected to consider the owner's request at its meeting on Oct. 21.

In July, Levar said he would schedule a meeting with the neighbors, TCA and Wendy's to address their concerns over increased traffic and noise that a fast food drive-through would bring to the area. But according to resident Wesley Zameda, no such meeting has yet taken place.

"We keep calling the alderman's office, but he hasn't gotten back to us," he said.

Rather than wait, Zameda said he and fellow neighbors have begun circulating a petition objecting to the construction and operation of a Wendy's restaurant on the 5100 block of North Cicero Avenue and plan to present it to Levar and officials at the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Despite the mysterious disappearance of two signs once posted behind Zameda's fence that read: "Say No to Wendy's," and "Save Edens Club," the retired city worker said he's not ready to back down.

"I know some people think it's a done deal," Zameda said. "It's not over yet."

"We're going to keep fighting, even if that means I have to stand in front of the wrecking ball."

Source: Pioneer Press

Posted by Tannerman at 10:30 AM | Comments (0) | Trackback

September 22, 2005

Commentary from (9/22)

Cycling?  Not anymore!Here at, our slogan has been "Working to keep Edens Athletic Club open and Wendy's-free." In light of TCA's letter dated September 6, it doesn't seem like the first part is going to happen, unfortunately.

I actually chuckled at some of the things mentioned in that notification, not that Mr. Schwartz cares. His subtle jab at the whole Save Edens campaign was particularly enjoyable: A neighbor launched a "save Edens" campaign, which has had the unfortunate effect of accelerating the loss of members; the opposite of their intent. I would tend to disagree with that statement. I believe the first public notification of the club being sold/redeveloped happened on June 29, with the article in the Press entitled Athletic club reported sold for restaurant. The domain name wasn't registered until July 5, with banners promoting the website and the "Save the Edens Club" campaign showing up shortly after that. Racquetball?  Not anymore!

I'd argue that the club announcing that they were selling out would probably be the more accurate reason for "accelerating the loss of members." Anybody could pretty much conclude that. (Well, maybe not someone who couldn't figure out how to make the club profitable in 5 or 10 years, depending on which source you trust).

Of course, the departure of members would also have nothing to do with the fact that since the announcement back in June, general club maintenance and upkeep went to the wayside. After all, why bother to maintain the place even though contracts were in place with club members to provide these services? What's a dirty shower, broken equipment, or even poorly connected television units got to do with member retention anyway? Gee, I don't know why people wouldn't want to stay around for that! Yep, must be that darn website and those folks who wanted to keep the club around. Yup, that's the real reason everyone left!

Give me a break.

Volleyball?  Not anymore!It boils down to the fact that seemingly Mr. Schwartz wanted to "take his ball and go home." A deal couldn't be worked out with Joe Gill and his team to sell the club. That's all we really know. Why that couldn't be resolved no one is open to say. God forbid that the community actually get a little riled up at the idea of dumping a Wendy's into their backyards. I really can't understand why there would be any offense at that. Have you ever lived next to a fast food joint, Mr. Schwartz? Probably not, I would assume. You might want to consider working in one, however, and spend a little time learning about customer satisfaction. Basketball?  Not anymore!

Moving on, the second part of our slogan here at is still valid at this point. That whole "Wendy's-free" thing. And last time I checked, that Zoning Board meeting wasn't until Friday, October 21 at 2:00 p.m. I grew up in the Forest Glen neighborhood nearby and the last thing we need around there is more traffic being generated off Cicero Ave. or the stench of greasy burgers. I can see it now: "Eat fatty hamburgers, now on land leased from a heath club conglomerate!" I doubt that will be showing up as a TCA press release any time soon. (Not that you'd be able to read it on TCA's corporate or Edens websites anyway, which seem to have been designed by a 4-year old when it comes to navigation and organization of information.)

So while the club may be going away, and folks have found other places to workout, we still have this little Wendy's issue to consider. So keep up the pressure on the alderman folks. Keep those petitions circulating. And let's see what happens!

Posted by Tannerman at 11:22 AM | Comments (0) | Trackback