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Tuesday, 12 November 2019 20:19

Work underway for Planet Fitness location at Richmond Plaza

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Tri-City Inc. is combining the former theater with two other suites at Richmond Plaza for the future Planet Fitness location, set to open in mid-2020. Tri-City Inc. is combining the former theater with two other suites at Richmond Plaza for the future Planet Fitness location, set to open in mid-2020. Courtesy Tri-City Inc.

ROCKINGHAM — The announcement of a Planet Fitness gym coming to Richmond Plaza is the latest in a recent round of additions to the shopping center.

Tri-City Inc. formally announced an agreement with the international fitness franchise on its Facebook page on Friday, after teasing it a few days before with photos of work being done inside.

“It’s a big project for us,” said Tri-City CEO Neil Robinette, “because many people know that the theater space kinda sits there like a sore thumb, it’s so big.”

The former theater has been vacant for the past two decades.

Two biggest challenges in leasing out the property over the years have been the sloped floors, which would have to be leveled out before being used for anything else, and the 20-foot frontage, Robinette said.

He added that it would take a “very unique” opportunity to be able to utilize that space — which they found with Planet Fitness.

“(We) found a good user for it that’s growing, that will add a lot of traffic to the shopping center and bring a really strong investment into the community,” he said. “So we’re excited about that.”

Currently, the three closest Planet Fitness locations are in Fayetteville, Albemarle and Monroe. In July, it was announced that a location will be opening in Eden. According to its website, there are more than 1,800 Planet Fitness locations.

The company also announced last week that it was expanding its “global footprint” with three locations coming to Australia.

The renovation of the space is being split between Tri-City, which is bringing the floor to grade and upgrading utilities, “getting it into a shell condition,” and Planet Fitness will be “making a significant investment” with the equipment and other furnishings, Robinette added.

According to the company’s Facebook post, 540 cubic yards of dirt were shipped in to level the former theater floor.

“Both sides will be making a pretty substantial investment to bring them here,” he said.

Freedom Fitness was located on the opposite side of the plaza, but was recently moved over to Broadview Plaza into the former furniture section of Big Lots, which closed in early 2018.

“I think it will be a good fit for (Freedom Fitness),” Robinette said, adding that it is now in a larger space than before. “It just wasn’t a good situation to have two gyms in the same center.”

“I think it will work out well for both parties,” he added.

Work has been in progress for several months on a building that will house three other businesses: Aspen Dental, Firehouse Subs and Verizon.

The latter currently occupies a standalone building in Richmond Plaza, but Robinette said they needed more space.

“I think it was a good opportunity for them to get into something new,” he added about the wireless retailer.

The current building has already been leased, but Robinette said that announcement won’t be made until some time next year.

He said they decided to keep that building rather than raze it, since, due to coding, they would likely not be allowed to construct another in its place.

“So we’re going to leave it there, spend some money on the building, make it look a little better with the new tenant coming in,” he said.

Firehouse, which has more than 1,100 total locations, will have a drive-thru, according to Robinette.

In addition to the empty storefront which housed Freedom Fitness, there is one in the corner which has been a challenge to fill.

“It gets a little hidden back there,” Robinette said. “But for the right use, the right user, I think it would do well.”

Ideally, the developer said he’d like to find a local or regional restaurant that could utilize the courtyard to fill the space that was once home to Twisted Treats.

“With some investment, (it) would be a really neat atmosphere,” he added, noting that the restaurant business is tough and requires a lot of capital.

The plaza underwent a $3 million renovation in late 2015 and 2016 and brought in several new retailers including Rue 21.

Planet Fitness and the other new businesses are expected to open mid-2020.



Last modified on Tuesday, 12 November 2019 21:16

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