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April 2014

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Gymlingo closes on sale of former St. Jerome church

Business to renovate church for new location

City of Oconomowoc - Tai Yong Cao and Kathleen Peng said that, after nearly six months of work, they have finalized the purchase of the former St. Jerome Church on Main Street. The owners of Gymlingo can now work on renovating the former house of worship into a bigger space to house their business.

"Big thanks to the church's generous offer. Thank you to our customers who help us with the down payment. First Bank Finical Center has provided us the loan for the purchase and some necessary remodeling. We are on the stage to work with contractors to start remodeling," read an email from Peng.

In June, Cao and Ping announced their hope to expand their business into the church and live in the former rectory.

They said the former church would offer easier access compared to their current location on the second story of a downtown building. Cao also said the larger space would enable Gymlingo to offer more programs and better accommodate a competitive team of gymnasts that practices there.

The city played a role in helping Gymlingo get the approvals necessary in a more-timely manner. Having been chastised by past business owners and developers who said that the city puts up too much red tape for business development, Mayor Jim Daley vowed to make it a priority to streamline the process when he took office three years ago.

To run their gym out of the church building and live in the rectory, a rezoning was needed. And under Daley's leadership, a new zoning code and sign code was established.

In Gymlingo's case, approvals under the new codes saved them more than 90 percent in fees, which went from $1,000 to $75. They also could spend a minimal amount of time meeting with officials and focus more on the other components of their venture.

Daley said an approval for their project went from three months and nine meetings to one month and minimal meetings with the city administration.

The mayor touted this example at his annual Breakfast with the Mayor on Thursday. The event, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, gives the community an opportunity to hear an annual update from the government leader on the state of the city.

For Cao and Peng, their next step is making the former church a gym. The owners said that although a timetable to relocate has not been established, they have lots of things to move now.

"We have 52 pews, marble altars, lectern, furniture, lights and radiators for sale. We hope the proceeds will help us get new lights," Peng wrote.

For more information, send an email to gymlingo@gmail.com for more information.

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