OCEANPORT – The finishing touches are being added to the Fort Athletic Club, a new attraction at the former Fort Monmouth that’s nearly six years in the making.
The club’s ownership, Fort Partners Group, will hold its ribbon cutting for the 50,000-square foot fitness facility Tuesday, after investing $15 million to purchase and renovate the U.S. Army’s former physical fitness center. The Club will open on Oct. 1.
“I think we created something really great here. Everybody involved here is family-oriented, and we built this for families,” said Scott Marchakitus of Fair Haven, the group’s CEO and founding member.
About the fitness club
The club, which will be open to the public via memberships, combines several fitness boutique studios under one roof. Each one has a military reference to honor the legacy of the fort, which closed in 2011: Earn Your Stripes, a high-intensity workout; Flight School Cycle, immersive cycling; Hot Zone, featuring hot yoga; and Base Ops, strength cardio, dance and performance training.
The Club’s Command Center uses technology-infused biocircuit equipment, which are fitness machines with artificial intelligence that learn a person’s skill set and create a custom workout.
An indoor hardwood floor basketball gymnasium with the Club’s logo of a general’s star at center court and soon-to-be-completed outdoor soccer fields will be used for area youths and aspiring college athletes.
Higher learning: NJCU opens Fort Monmouth campus, makes Oceanport a university town
Members can enjoy smoothies or coffee at the Canteen or buy food at the Mess Hall.
A legacy hire
In another nod to the fort’s legacy, one of the group’s first hires is retired Lt. Col. John Occhipinti, who served at the fort as an active member of the military and as a civilian during its decommissioning and transition to the private sector as the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority’s direct liaison to the Army.
Occhipinti retired in 2018. His job at the Club is director of leadership and culture.
“He’s a legend. Six years ago when we first walked in here, he was the first guy we met. He was the caretaker. And we’re all set to go with him. He’s going to be our captain of culture,” said Chris Champeau, Rumson-Fair Haven’s boys basketball coach and founding partner.
“One of our themes is we ‘Remember Those Who Have Gone Before Us,’ and we for us it’s an honor to keep some of the fort’s traditions alive,” Champeau said.
The Fort Partners Group had entered into a contract to purchase the 70-year-old physical fitness building in 2015 for $2.3 million and closed on it on Sept. 26, 2017.
The group started demolition on parts of the building that year and new construction last year. The building was added onto, extending its original footprint from 35,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet.
Marchakitus said they experienced several speed bumps in the form of contractor delays, hidden problems within the building, supply chain issues from the pandemic and labor shortages along the way. Patriot Construction from Middletown was brought on in 2020 to manage the construction end.
“(We) think the community will be impressed with the finished product,” Machakitus said.
When Jersey Shore native Dan Radel is not reporting the news, you can find him in a college classroom where he is a history professor. Reach him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072; [email protected]