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Last-minute deal may save Oz Fitness

It appears an 11th-hour deal might keep the fitness club in the Medford Center open.

A lawyer representing International Fitness said Tuesday he is working with Oz Fitness and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court trustee in Eugene to transfer ownership of the assets of Oz before the scheduled closing at the end of business today.

Woodland Hills, Calif., lawyer Robert Yaspan said he expects a redrafted agreement to be signed before the deadline.

"This will be good for the customers," Yaspan said. "It's a leap of faith, but if it closes for even one day, it would be a sinking ship."

International Fitness operates six Lane County gyms, including a former Oz Fitness site in Springfield, and one in Northridge, Calif.

Yaspan met last week with regional representatives of Kimco Realty, the real estate investment trust that owns Medford Center, in an effort to rework the lease.

Late last year, Oz Fitness Oregon, whose only operation was in Medford, filed for Chapter 11 court protection. Oz Fitness owner Ian Riley said the primary reason for the bankruptcy filing was because Kimco wouldn't rework the lease agreement inherited when he acquired the Medford and Springfield gyms from 24-Hour Fitness in 2004.

Earlier this month, Riley announced the Medford gym would close on April 30, putting its employees out of work and leaving thousands of members without a training site.

Riley cautioned it might be presumptuous to expect the pieces to fall into place so quickly.

"I'm always hopeful we can do something to approve the outcome," said Riley, who continues to operate four Spokane Oz locations, which were not part of the bankruptcy proceedings, and has listed his Billings, Mont., gym for sale. "But until that happens, I don't really have any comment at all."

Reach reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or business@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregMTBusiness, friend him on Facebook and read his blog at www.mailtribune.com/Economic Edge.