Rossignol building transforms into business park (8/20/09)

Synergy fitness club to open next month

Aug. 20, 2009

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

By late September, Williston will be home to the Champlain Valley’s newest fitness center. And the owners hope Synergy Fitness will not only be the most modern facility in the area, but also the most dedicated to its members.


    Courtesy image
Synergy Fitness will have a variety of cardio and strength machines, as well as a juice bar when it opens next month.


Courtesy image
The White Cap Business Park, shown here in an artist’s rendering, has transformed itself from the former Rossignol ski warehouse to an environmentally sound office complex.

When work is completed next month, Synergy Fitness will have some of the most state-of-the-art cardio and strength equipment available today, said co-owner Christina Schueneman. The facility is currently under construction in the White Cap Business Park off Industrial Avenue in what used to be the Rossignol warehouse.

Synergy will occupy more than 12,000 square feet, with rooms for one-on-one training, yoga sessions, spinning classes and more. There will also be a juice and snack bar providing all-natural juices and smoothies, which Schueneman said will be a highlight for Synergy.

“We want this to be a destination facility,” Schueneman said last week, while outside the future Synergy location.

Schueneman and her business partner, Yuri Trump, both lived in Vermont several years ago, with Schueneman attending the University of Vermont. After living in New York City and working in the high-stress environment of banking and finance, the couple knew they wanted to head back to the Green Mountain State. Both fitness enthusiasts, Schueneman believed Williston and Chittenden County could use a different kind of fitness facility.

“We saw a need for a sophisticated health club,” she said.

Synergy Fitness is locally owned and operated and not associated with a similarly named chain of fitness clubs based in New York and New Jersey, according to Schueneman.

Williston is also home to a Sports & Fitness Edge location, which has a pool and field house. Maple Tree Place is home to the RehabGym, which operates as a physical therapy and health and fitness center.

Sports & Fitness Edge Manager Laurie Adams said her club is currently undergoing some minor “face lift” repairs, which should be completed next month. She said she’s not worried the new competition will adversely affect her business.

“It’s a hard business to crack into and we certainly wish them well,” Adams said.

Schueneman said she wants a health club that really focuses on its members. She said she wants Synergy to be focused on customer service, which she believes can be lacking in many clubs.

“That’s what we see being wrong with a lot of gyms,” Schueneman said.

Once Synergy is completed, it will have 25 cardio machines, including treadmills, step mills, and elliptical machines. Each will be equipped with its own 17-inch, high-definition widescreen television. Synergy will also have 35 strength and weight machines, Schueneman said.

Synergy will also have a separate cycling studio, with 20 indoor bikes for spin classes and cycling training.

There will also be men’s and women’s locker rooms, showers and bathrooms on site.

Schueneman said the monthly membership will be $59, but is cheaper if someone signs up for six-month or yearlong memberships. Annual membership will cost $589. The club will offer corporate rates, as well.

Synergy’s location at White Cap, with the business park’s federal and state office tenants and proximity to Industrial Avenue, should be convenient for many Champlain Valley residents, Schueneman said.

“There’s a strong pool of people around here,” she said.

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Building tenants varied

When Synergy Fitness officially opens next month in the White Cap Business Park, it will be the latest in a host of businesses and government agencies already established at the site.

The federal government, in particular, has a large stake in the business park. The Department of Homeland Security has a variety of offices, as the does the Vermont headquarters of the U.S. Census.

“They’re definitely a large chunk of our property,” said Graham Goldsmith Jr., vice president of White Cap Ventures LLC.

Besides Homeland Security and the Census, the business park is home to the offices of Vermont’s Division of Children and Families and the Systems & Software Company Inc.

Since the Rossignol ski company relocated its East Coast operations to Utah in 2005, the owners of the business park have worked to transform the 150,000-square-foot space. When Rossignol owned the location, much of the building served as a giant warehouse, where skis and winter sports accessories were shipped worldwide, Goldsmith explained.

But drastic changes have occurred in the four years since White Cap Ventures bought the warehouse. First, the company partitioned off portions of the warehouse to create different-sized office spaces. White Cap then added more natural light to the building by constructing several large skylights.

Goldsmith said one purpose of the skylights was to help earn the building LEED certification. LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a national standard for “green” and sustainable building construction.

Besides the addition of natural light, Goldsmith said the building has the some of the most energy-efficient insulation on the market, and its indoor lighting is regulated to save power. Goldsmith said he hoped to earn a silver certification sometime next year.

“The positive is that we’re helping to reduce operating costs this way,” he said.

White Cap has also worked to make the building’s interior more attractive. The company built two atriums, both complete with skylights and greenery, and one with an indoor fountain. Carpeting should be installed around the atriums sometime this week, Goldsmith said.

Besides Synergy Fitness, the Department of Homeland Security will expand. Currently, the department has 17,000 square feet of office space. By November, it will have accumulated close to 11,000 more square feet, Goldsmith said.

The government agency signed a 10-year lease in June, he said. The U.S. Census Bureau will occupy nearly 7,000 square feet of office space until December 2010. Goldsmith said Systems & Software could expand into the Census space at that time.

Another new tenant is also in the works. Goldsmith said a café and sandwich shop could be ready to open in the coming months.

Nearly a quarter of the business park remains vacant — mostly small office spaces are available — but Goldsmith said that could change, as several interested parties have stepped forward in recent weeks. There are also plans for expansion, if necessary, Goldsmith said.

“But we really like the campus feeling we have here,” he said.