Brandon Borghi, right, son of Fit Focus owner Steve Borghi, will be managing the business when it opens. With him are conner Dever, left, and Tristan Comb. (Adam Drapcho/Laconia Daily Sun)
By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Steve Borghi will play a mulligan by opening Fit Focus, which he describes as a "full-blown fitness club," in the same downtown space where his similar venture — Work Out World —foundered on a broken partnership, unpaid debts and tangled litigation before it opened for business in 2009.
Borghi, a resident of Alton Bay, said Monday that work is underway renovating and equipping the 30,000-square-foot space attached to the downtown parking garage last occupied by the Grace Capital Church. He expects Fit Focus to open in between six and eight weeks. He said he is leasing the space with an option to purchase it from its owner, Daniel Di Sangro of Roslindale, Massachusetts, and has invested approximately $2 million in renovations and equipment.
Last June, when Borghi first announced his plans, he indicated that he intended to purchase the property. However, he said that because of the uncertainly surrounding the future of the downtown parking garage, which is structurally entwined with the six commercial units attached to it, he decided to lease the largest of the units. He said that the club will provide 100 pieces of cardiovascular equipment as well as strength machines and free weights while offering both scheduled fitness classes and personal training sessions. He anticipates that the center will employ some 30 people either full or part time. Memberships will range between about $20 and $50 per month.
"I'd like finish what I was trying to do before," Borghi said in June. In September 2008, Borghi, who then owned more than 30 Work Out World fitness centers, most of them in New England, purchased the Laconia property in partnership with DiSangro and his wife Joanne 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 fitness 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 leased to Borghi.
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