Watertown fitness center files for bankruptcy

Armor Up Fitness, located in a retail section of the former Convergys call center on Arsenal Street, Watertown, will file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Sydney Schaefer/Watertown Daily Times

WATERTOWN — The owner of a fitness business is filing for bankruptcy because of the cornonavirus pandemic.

Armor Up Fitness, located in a retail section of the former Convergys call center on Arsenal Street, will file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Donald W. Rutherford, CEO of the Watertown Local Development Corporation, also known as the Watertown Trust, said it’s the first customer of the agency’s that’s going bankrupt because of the financial crisis caused by the virus.

Owner Jamie Wood informed him that he had hoped to reopen but “the state pulled the rug from under him,” Mr. Rutherford said.

The gym was going to open in late June under Phase IV of the reopening of the north country economy, but the state would not open gyms and fitness centers across the region, fearing that the virus would spread.

Mr. Wood, who could not be reached for comment, had no other recourse but to file for bankruptcy, Mr. Rutherford said.

Armor Up, a longtime tenant of the former call center, had been closed since the pandemic began in March.

On Tuesday, the Watertown Trust board unanimously agreed to write off the $131,500 loan that Mr. Wood had with the agency. Mr. Wood was forced to get a job, Mr. Rutherford said.

During the meeting, Mr. Rutherford said that the number of businesses with loans with the Watertown Trust not paying their loans “was not as bad as I thought.”

The Trust gave several businesses deferments on the principals on the loans for June and July. Only seven businesses took up the offer for $10,000 emergency loans.

Three companies, Renzi Brothers, MLR and Alteri’s Italian American Market, paid off their loans early, he said.

A deal to open a new grocery store in the former Great American store on State Street is moving ahead, Mr. Rutherford said.

Three local businessmen — Jacob “Jake” Johnson, Tyler Bartlett and Bill Stoodley — plan to operate a “full-service grocery store” in the vacant Great American store at 650 State St., which closed in late November.

A section of the store’s parking lot will be sold to Mr. Stoodley for his adjacent business, Reid and Benoit Funeral Home, Mr. Rutherford said.

The Watertown Trust also met in executive session with developer Michael E. Lundy about a potential project in the city’s industrial park on South Bellew Avenue.

There was no word on what the board discussed in the executive session. Afterward, board member David Zembiec said no action was taken. The Trust doesn’t reveal the contents of executive sessions involving potential deals.

Earlier this month, Developer Michael E. Lundy pulled two projects — a distribution center and a building for his construction company — out of the Jefferson County Corporate Park, off outer Coffeen Street, accusing the board members of the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency of playing politics.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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