The 12th Street Gym, a well-known presence in the Gayborhood for 30 years, will permanently close Jan. 31. The closure was announced this week .
The news wasn’t unexpected because the building that houses the gym recently was purchased by a New York-based developer. Still, its finality brought feelings of disappointment to some of the gym’s 4,000 members.
“The gym is such a warm, healthy and fun place,” said Richard N. Gliniak, a member for 20 years. “The camaraderie and level of support that everyone gives each other is irreplaceable. I’m going to miss that very deeply. I feel sadness and disappointment. And I’m not at all convinced that closing the gym was inevitable.”
Current gym memberships will be transferred at no cost to members for Philadelphia Sports Club, which operates three gyms within about a mile of 12th Street Gym.
The 12th Street Gym’s website states in part: “Over the past year, we have been forced to evaluate the future of [the gym]. With heavy hearts, we must announce that [the gym] will close its doors for the last time at 11 p.m. on January 31, 2018.”
Frank Baer, co-owner of the gym, declined to comment for this story. In a prior interview, Baer said the gym faced financial challenges, including a sharp property-tax increase and expensive fire-code improvements.
Karen Guss, a spokesperson for the city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections, issued this statement: “I’m sorry to hear about the gym closing. Violations on a property continue to exist when the property changes ownership or occupants. So L&I will continue its efforts to get compliance with the fire code.”
Alleged fire-code violations on the premises include unsafe fire escapes, insufficient standpipes, inadequate fire doors and a fire-alarm system that isn’t certified, according to city records.
The gym also is embroiled in contentious civil litigation in federal and state courts. According to court papers, Baer hired Jerome P. McNeill in 2014 to serve as a masseur at Loews Hotel in Center City, where 12th Street Gym was operating a spa at the time.
McNeill allegedly sexually assaulted a Texas woman and an Arizona woman while giving them massages at the hotel. The Texas woman’s lawsuit was settled for $5.4 million — with the gym’s insurer paying $1 million. Other insurers and sources paid an additional $4.4 million.
But 12th Street Gym’s insurer refuses to pay more money to defend the gym in a pending lawsuit filed by the Arizona woman. McNeill recently was convicted of indecent assault in a criminal case pursued by the Texas woman and awaits sentencing in April.