Housing Complex

Spirit Fitness Eviction Trial Set for Jan. 29

Union Temple Baptist Church senior pastor Willie Wilson

Last week, I wrote about the strange story of the Spirit Fitness Health and Wellness Center in Anacostia. Briefly, the Salvation Army is trying to evict Spirit for being $160,000 behind in its rent, and Rev. Willie Wilson, former mayoral candidate and president-although-he-won't-admit-it of Spirit, is accusing the Salvation Army of breaking its promises. (Also involved is alleged shadow campaign organizer Vernon Hawkins, who's listed as Spirit's treasurer on a government form and was present at several meetings between Spirit and the Salvation Army.)

Today, the case went to the D.C. Superior Court. The case file states:

Protective Order Granted Orally in Court by Judge Edelman. Defendant ordered to pay into the Court Registry the sum of $4,500.00 by the 15th day of December 2012 and the sum of $4,500.00 on the 10th day of each month thereafter during the pendency of this case. Protective Order information sheet provided to the tenant.

D.C. Superior Court spokeswoman Leah Gurowitz explains that the protective order means that Spirit will pay $4,500 a month into a court-overseen escrow fund until the case is resolved. If the Salvation Army wins the case, the money's there; in the meantime, Spirit continues to use the space.

The Salvation Army's Lewis Reckline, who serves as the organization's national capital area commander and was present at today's hearing, says the judge sent both sides' attorneys into the hall to try to reach an agreement. No agreement was reached, so the judge set the trial for Jan. 29. Reckline expects a verdict the same day.

Reckline also clarifies the unusually high maintenance fee for Spirit, at about $8,500 a month, which Spirit hasn't been paying in full. He says it's Spirit's portion of the building's maintenance fee, which includes not only all utilities but also security, cleanup, and insurance. Spirit's space in the building, he says, is between 5,000 and 6,000 square feet.

The Salvation Army is still very much hoping to evict Spirit. "Our position has been the entire time that we want to terminate the relationship," says Reckline.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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