Powerhouse's permit to expire in 3 months, doors remain locked

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Powerhouse Gym has been the subject of several reports on WAFB and the subject of numerous customer complaints because it's been almost seven months since they promised to open their doors.

Plywood, a lock and a chain are at the Powerhouse Gym. Carey Chauvin with the Baton Rouge Department of Public Works said he issued the gym's permit nearly three months ago, but since then, hasn't received any requests for an inspection.

"It would tell me that there's no work going on. The fact that we haven't received any calls like we had last year when they were working without permits would indicate to me that there isn't any work taking place in the building," said Chauvin.

Paperwork shows the company contracted with the job is out of St. Augustine, Florida. While we were at the gym, there were no construction crews in sight. Chauvin said Powerhouse has until November 3rd till their permit expires.

"There's a timeline under which the permit will expire six months from the date it's issued so once we get to that date, they haven't requested any inspections or an extension to that permit, then we'll go ahead and void it out," said Chauvin.

"I don't think it's ever going to open. I think everyone is just screwed out of their money," said Frank Caruso, who signed up for membership at Powerhouse.

Caruso said ads in the paper and flyers are what caught his eye last year. He said he was told if he paid for three years up front, he would be locked in for life at the gym at $20 a month, so he signed the dotted line last year in November, and paid $839.30.

Caruso went to the gym's office and every time, he said he was told the opening date was pushed back. Finally, he got one of the owners, Ronnie Olah, who told Caruso...

"I'll be open April 1st. He said, 'If I don't open April 1st, I'm saying this in front of all these girls as witnesses, I'll give you your money back,' that's what he told me," said Caruso.

"Do you have your money back?" asked Chawla.

"No," replied Caruso.

So WAFB went to Olah's home for some answers.

"I'm Kiran Chawla with WAFB. Can I talk to somebody?" asked Chawla.

The man who answered the door said he was Connie Olah's husband. He shut the door in our faces and then opened it again to tell us construction would begin by the end of this week, the contractor and investors would be here Tuesday, and for us not to worry about it.

"What do you tell all the people who have given you money?" asked Chawla.

He replied, "They haven't given us any money."

"Can they get their money back?" asked Chawla.

He told us, "Sure, they can get their money back if they want to." Then he went on to say the gym would be open by the end of September.

"What if it's not open by the end of September?" asked Chawla.

At that time, the man shut the door in Chawla's face one more time and told her to "get out of here."

On Tuesday, 9 News crews checked to see if anyone showed up at the gym, but there were no signs of life, and the lock and chain on the front door were still there.

The Attorney General's Office is investigating Powerhouse. Anyone having problems with Powerhouse can call the Consumer Protection division at 800-351-4889.

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