Equinox Hit With $1M in Lawsuits for Unpaid Rent at NYC Locations
High-end gym chain Equinox owes about $1 million in unpaid rent in two New York City locations, court records show.
The owners of 14 Wall Street and 196 Orchard Street filed lawsuits this month against Equinox accusing the chain of not forking over its full rent for months, according to filings in Manhattan Supreme Court.
On Friday, an LLC tied to 14 Wall Street, which is owned by Ukrainian billionaire Alexander Rovt, filed a suit claiming Equinox hasn’t paid its full rent bill at its 36,500-square-foot location in the Financial District building since April, Crain’s New York first reported. The landlord is seeking $1.7 million in back rent, court records show.
Rovt’s lawyer, Edward Weiss, and a spokesperson for Equinox did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Equinox was also hit with a lawsuit on Feb. 11 from the owner of the retail portion of 196 Orchard — an entity tied to New York City REIT — for $1 million in back rent after Equinox allegedly stopped paying rent starting in May, court records show. The suit also wants Equinox to pay $23 million in interest for the location.
A spokesperson for New York City REIT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Equinox made headlines early during the coronavirus pandemic after it sent a letter to the owners of its more than 300 locations that it would not pay April rent because it was forced to temporarily shutter locations.
That news came the same week that Jeff Blau, CEO of major Equinox investor Related Companies, chastised other tenants on television for doing the same, saying the pandemic was “not an excuse” to skip out on rent.
A spokesperson for Related previously told Commercial Observer that Equinox is a separate entity that makes its own decisions.
Landlords and retailers have taken to the courts during the pandemic to either sue for missed rent or to get out of leases, though retailers haven’t been so successful. Last month, both Valentino and Victoria’s Secret lost their cases against landlords trying to get out of Manhattan locations, with judges ruling that the pandemic does not void leases.
Gyms, too, face a particularly uncertain future, as users might not be so quick to flock back to them after living more than a year with a virus spread in large part through bodily droplets. This hasn’t stopped landlords from talking up gyms as amenity draws for tenants even post-COVID.