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Here Come Luxury Bathrooms for the Masses

SAN DIEGO (TheStreet) -- We've all been there.

Shuttling around a city all day, far from home and in need of a restroom break, only to discover that the public bathroom options are far from desirable.

Connecticut resident Wayne Parks has been there one too many times himself while visiting New York City over the years.

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So the self-professed germaphobe decided to do something about the problem: build a luxurious public restroom alternative.

Parks is launching New York City's first members-only day storage and luxury bathroom facility, Posh Stow and Go.

Think immaculately clean, beautifully designed bathrooms with such things as lockers and motion-sensor flushers and faucets. Many will have showers also.

"It's going to feel like home," Parks says during a recent telephone interview. "It will be comfortable and warm. "

"Everything is tile, 6 feet high -- I don't want fingerprints anywhere. Everything will be wall-mounted, so my crews can keep the floors spotless Everything is unisex. I don't think women should have to see urinals. It's everything I wanted and expect for my family. I wanted to give that to everyone else."

Access to Posh Stow and Go luxury bathrooms involves a minimal membership charge -- $15 annually -- and the purchase of daily passes for the number of days you plan to use the bathrooms. Passes are sold in packages of three, six or 10 days. The cost is $8 a day for a three-pack, $7 a day for a six-pack and $6 a day for a 10-pack.

"These are royal amenities at peasant prices," quips Parks, who has thought pored over every last detail.

The bathrooms will be decorated in a palette of light blue, dark blue and white, he continues. There will be no metal lockers; Parks is working with his architect to develop custom wooden lockers. The rooms will all be soundproofed, have high- powered dryers and baby-changing stations.

The first few Posh Stow and Go luxury bathrooms, already under construction, are scheduled to open in June in Midtown Manhattan, near Grand Central and Penn stations.

Parks declined to reveal how much he's spending to build the facilities, but says only half-jokingly, "You could buy a house, a very nice house and put a lot of bathrooms in it, for what these cost."

A construction company owner, Parks spent the past decade thinking about his luxury bathroom idea, but was too busy to do anything about it.

When the economy slowed in 2008, Parks started to consider the business more seriously.

"I said 'You know what? It's time.' My oldest daughter had a baby this year. My son moved to Manhattan, and so we're all back into New York now, with a second wave of kids. And I said 'I'm not dealing with this bathroom issue anymore," Parks says.

His frustration with public bathrooms apparently struck a chord.

People are signing up for membership before the first Posh Stow and Go bathroom has even opened. Parks was targeting day-trippers and tourists with his business, but has managed to also attract locals.

"I figured day-trippers and tourists because they don't frequent the city and don't know the secret places where there are nice bathrooms that those who are in Manhattan all the time know about," Parks says. "But a lot of New Yorkers have signed up. I was a little shocked at that. And I'm getting 60% men."

Midtown Manhattan is just the beginning. Parks plans to branch out across the city in the coming years, having two open this year and 10 by 2015. After that, Parks plans to expand across the country. Boston, Chicago and Washington D.C. are all on his radar for luxury bathrooms.

"I want to ramp up slow because I don't' want to make mistakes," he says. "If build 10 places and realize I made a huge mistake in layout or fixtures, then we're talking about a million-dollar mistake So I'm thinking Manhattan is where we're starting and doing it right. And then we're moving outward. And membership will be good in every city."

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