Following a heated battle with its landlord, Anacostia’s Spirit Fitness Health and Wellness Center has been evicted. Spirit—-whose president is former mayoral candidate and Union Temple Baptist Church senior pastor Willie Wilson—-was forced to leave its home on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE on Monday.
Spirit’s landlord, the Salvation Army, moved to evict Spirit for failure to pay its monthly rent and maintenance fees. According to the Salvation Army’s court filings, Spirit was behind nearly $160,000 between December 2010 and November 2012.
Last Friday, D.C. Superior Court judge Craig Iscoe ruled in the Salvation Army’s favor and ordered Spirit to pay the Salvation Army $170,612.02. Reached by phone, Wilson confirmed that Spirit was evicted on Monday.
But the fight’s not yet over. Last Thursday, a day before the court’s ruling, Spirit filed a lawsuit against the Salvation Army for breach of contract. Spirit’s lawyer, Elena Tilly—-who, according to her website, is also a physician, speaker, entrepreneur, weight loss program director, and boarding house owner—-could not be reached for comment, but a colleague of Tilly who asked not to be identified says the suit focuses in part on what Spirit regards as the exorbitant maintenance fees charged by the Salvation Army.
The Salvation Army’s Lewis Reckline told me in December that the monthly maintenance fee of about $8,500 included utilities, security, cleanup, and insurance. Tilly’s colleague alleges that the Salvation Army was charging Spirit $45,000 for security that just consisted of “one lady sitting at the desk,” but Reckline says Spirit was only responsible for 12 percent of that annual security fee—-prorated on the basis of the space it occupies—-and that “truth be told, they weren’t paying anything.”
Reckline says he’s already fielded calls from several organizations interested in renting the space but that he wants to hold out for another nonprofit to operate a wellness center there.
This post has been updated to include the comments from Lewis Reckline.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery