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Powerhouse Gym to reopen in mid February


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Frederick Wilkerson, owner of Powerhouse Gym, and associate Matheno Bey prepare signs signaling "under new ownership" at the facility on East Jefferson and St. Aubin.

Powerhouse Gym makes a comeback

New owner plans to reopen facility in Detroit's riverfront district in February.

By Tenisha Mercer / The Detroit News

DETROIT -- The closed Powerhouse Gym on East Jefferson Avenue is reopening in mid-February with a new owner.

Frederick Wilkerson, 28, of Detroit plans to resume operations at the gym, which closed last June after the former licensee was evicted.

The gym on the corner of East Jefferson and St. Aubin will offer equipment, exercise classes, personal trainers, nutritional counseling, massages, a child-care facility and a 10,000-square-foot attached parking garage.

The reopened Powerhouse joins a number of new developments slated for the city's east riverfront district from the Renaissance Center to Belle Isle.

A $500 million public-private redevelopment project, which includes a state park and riverside walkway, housing, stores, restaurants and $10.5-million port terminal, is planned.

Opening a gym was a lifelong dream for Wilkerson, a former pro football player who worked as a sales manager for Bally Total Fitness for nearly three years.

"It's always been a goal of mine to own something that involved fitness," said Wilkerson, a defensive back for the Baltimore Ravens in 1999.

Powerhouse is one of the few gyms near downtown that is open to the general public.

"Location is key for a gym, and a location on Jefferson was something that I couldn't pass up," Wilkerson said.

"You have people who live and work down here and that's the clientele we are really trying to attract."

That's a smart move, said Barry Klein, chairman of Barry M. Klein Realty Enterprises in West Bloomfield.

"You need housing in that area and it's a positive sign that Powerhouse is taking," Klein said.

Wilkerson would not say how much money he invested in the gym, but Powerhouse licenses cost $200,000 to $1.8 million, said Henry Dabish, CEO of Powerhouse Gyms International in Farmington Hills.

The gym's licensing arm, Powerhouse Licensing LLC, has 300 licensees nationwide.

Wilkerson has already sold 50 memberships through a buy-one, get-one-free promotion, but plans to have 1,600 members by early 2006. Memberships range from $40 to $60 a month.

Wilkerson said he plans to offer discounts to the gym's 1,500 former members, who were left with useless memberships when the former licensee, Angela Wells, was evicted in June.

"We are really working to bridge the gap with them," said Wilkerson, who believes new businesses and homes planned in the area will give his business a boost.

"We just really want them to know that we have a quality club and that we will have an established facility that they can have confidence in."

Wells, the former licensee, is suing her landlord, Jefferson Investment Co., for wrongful eviction, said her attorney Marshall Disner of Farmington Hills. Last month, a Wayne County judge set aside the default judgment against Wells and sent her case back to 36th District Court.

Wells is seeking more than $1 million in damages from Jefferson Investment, Disner said. Jefferson Investment attorney Donald Mbamah did not return calls for comment.

"Location is key for a gym, and a location on Jefferson was something that I couldn't pass up."

You can reach Tenisha Mercer at (313) 222-2401 or [email protected].


Powerhouse Gym joins a number of new developments slated for the city's east riverfront district stretching from the Renaissance Center to Belle Isle.

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