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City to close on MC Fitness sale today

Pictured are the fields inside the former MC Fitness building. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe

WORTHINGTON — The city of Worthington will formally purchase the former MC Fitness building on Rowe Avenue this afternoon.

The 38,745-square-foot facility will be converted into the new headquarters for the city’s Public Works department and store all of the department’s vehicles, parts and tools.

“We’re excited to consolidate all of our departments and equipment so we can have one central location,” said Todd Wietzema, public works director.

The old, artificial soccer fields will be converted into a home for the department’s wide range of vehicles. Cars, trucks, plows and other vehicles will exit from large doors in the back of the building onto a road that leads onto Fredrick Avenue.

The first floor’s empty rooms will be converted into offices, while the deserted racquetball courts and classrooms on the upper level will be used for storage space.  

The Worthington City Council on Monday declared the city’s intent to bond for up to $4 million to renovate the building. The city will spend less than that — an estimated $3.5 million to purchase and renovate the building — but cannot spend more. The project will be paid for with money borrowed from the city’s hospital fund.

Workout equipment from Prairie Rehab & Fitness will be moved out of the building, and it won’t be available for soccer and baseball players during the cold months.

The city had explored renovating the building into a full-time recreational sports facility, but found it wasn’t a good location, didn’t have enough parking and still would have required massive financial commitment to be cleaned up.

Instead, if the city’s replacement half-cent sales tax passes in November, the city will use new funds to convert the blue building on the corner of Second Avenue and Lake Street — currently being rented to Smith Trucking — into a recreational sports facility.

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