Last Monday afternoon, Phil Durinick, co-owner of Maximus Health & Fitness on East Main Street, chatted amiably with a woman standing near the gym’s rear entrance as she marveled at the space inside.
She had been walking downtown when she noticed the construction taking place there and wanted to stop in to check it out, she said. In response, Mr. Durinick pointed to the nearby counter where Long Island’s first oxygen bar will soon serve flavored oxygen to the fitness center’s customers.
Mr. Durinick, who also works in the swimming pool industry, said she wasn’t the first person to ask about Maximus, which is slated to open in about two weeks. And he hopes she isn’t the last.
It’s no wonder the fitness center is drawing so much attention: Woolworth went out of business in 1997, and the long-vacant building that will soon house Maximus Health & Fitness was purchased for about $4 million in 2006 by Apollo Real Estate Advisors, a Manhattan-based investment group. When Apollo’s proposed $500 million revitalization for almost all of downtown later fell apart, Sag Harbor resident Michael Butler purchased the property last year.
The former Woolworth building has been the subject of countless downtown revitalization plans over the years. Everything from a movie theater, to a supermarket, to a culinary school have been floated as possible solutions to the long-vacant building, and all have failed to materialize.
But after decades of inaction, Maximus Health & Fitness is set to finally break that streak.
It took a lot of work, Mr. Durinick said. The building’s interior needed new ceilings, floors, lights, plumbing and electrical work. The metal beams supporting the now-empty second floor were encased with wooden molding to mask their appearance.
“Whatever you see in here is new,” he said. “It’s a neat look.”
The result of seven months of construction is much more than a gym, Mr. Durinick said. The space includes three tanning rooms, a space for aerobic exercise, a sauna in the men’s and women’s locker rooms, a child care area, and an electric fireplace near a warm-up area.
“It gives you a little bit of ambiance,” he said.