The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday March 28th

Orange County Gymnastics ?nds potential home in Carrboro Plaza

Tim Baker's Orange County Gymnastics organization has a class every day at 3:30. The youngest age group practices front flips in class with trainer Morgan.
Buy Photos Tim Baker's Orange County Gymnastics organization has a class every day at 3:30. The youngest age group practices front flips in class with trainer Morgan.

Orange County Gymnastics has faced hurdles in the past year, but it could find reprieve if a deal between owners Tim and Jessica Baker and Carrboro Plaza succeeds.

Tim Baker said he and his wife purchased the decades-old company in December 2011 with high hopes, but have since faced months of problems and multiple relocations.

But if all goes as hoped, the studio could soon find a permanent home in Carrboro Plaza.

Baker said the development’s manager contacted the owners after the studio’s frequent moves attracted media attention.

“They came to us and said they’d love to have us out there,” said Baker.

Terrill Wipper, who works for an accounting group and is handling the lease for Carrboro Plaza, said while no deal has been finalized, the plaza is interested in having the studio.

If the deal succeeds, it will put to rest months of uncertainty.

The studio had to relocate from its first location for repairs to the building after mold and asbestos were found in December.

After securing a temporary two-month lease at University Mall, the owners learned their original location had such bad structural issues that it would cost too much to renovate.

And though the University Mall space fit their needs, they could not renew the lease because the property is only zoned for retail.

The Bakers then moved into the American Legion building in Chapel Hill, which was zoned correctly to allow them to operate.

But while the building — which they are currently working out of — has worked temporarily, Tim Baker said it is too small a space for the center and can’t become the studio’s permanent home.

Baker said in the American Legion building, the instructors only have room to use about a quarter of their gym equipment.

“We are running a very small program right now,” Baker said.

Ideally, Orange County Gymnastics would be in a location of at least 8,000 square feet, Baker said. He said they currently have only a small fraction of the space with 1,200 square feet.

One of the Bakers’ ten employees, Morgan Warrington, agreed that the building is too small.

“The class size has shrunk a little bit but other than that it hasn’t really affected the classes too much. It is a little harder to work in the smaller space,” Warrington said.

She said she also hopes to move into a bigger space soon in order to accommodate more kids and be able to do more with them.

Baker said the Carrboro location would offer needed space and proper zoning for the business.

He also said Carrboro will be a great fit for the business.

He said he hopes a deal will go through by the end of April.

“If it goes any further than that, I don’t think we’ll be able to stay open,” Baker said.

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