Sunday, April 08, 2001

What's the Buzz?

Athletic Club is modernizing, more or less

        Perhaps the oldest of the old-line downtown Cincinnati clubs has raised enough money to start the next phase of what could become a half-million dollar renovation program.

        Officials at the Cincinnati Athletic Club, located in an alley off Race Street just opposite the old Shillito & Co. department store, view the project as part of a modernization effort that includes new members, a new first-floor lounge area and better finances.

        One thing the future will not include is female members. With about 660 members, the club remains all-male, as it has been since its founding about 150 years ago.

        “Everything about the club is better than it was seven years ago,” said Keith Koerner, who took over as general manager in October 1999.

        Earlier that year, the finances had hit rock bottom, when the annual operating budget ran out in August and the members had to borrow money to finish the year, he said.

        But last year, the club posted its first profit in years, taking in $40,000 more than it spent.

        It has raised dues to $68 a month and tried to attract younger members.

        First came the renovations. The club spent at least $250,000 on behind-the-walls improvements such as a new boiler, elevator and electrical work.

        “I applaud the board for that, because most people do it the other way around,” Mr. Koerner said.

        After a private fund-raising campaign, the club will spend about $300,000 on more noticeable items, starting with the first floor.


— Cliff Peale

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