For nearly two years, the at the corner of 65th Street and Lyndale Avenue, and residents have been wondering what will take its place. Many were excited to find out that Wellington Management Inc. was in the process of purchasing the property and that its development plans included a brand new LA Fitness facility, among other possible tenants.
LA Fitness is a national chain of fitness facilities that boasts rows of workout equipment, a variety of group fitness classes, pools, saunas, a juice bar and many more amenties to its members.
However, with and Snap Fitness just a few yards away, it begs the question of whether the coming of another gym would add too much competition among existing fitness facilities, or whether it would provide another place to work out and a boost for surrounding retailers.
According to Richfield Chamber of Commerce Board Member Pat Brekken, there is a market for another gym in the area. He said the facility would increase traffic in the area and encourage the city to think broader, more regionally, in terms of commercial spaces. In addition, Brekken said the gym would serve more than just those in the immediate area.
"Plenty of people from South Minneapolis, [in addition to people from Richfield], will come to this LA Fitness," Brekken said.
Stephen Wellington, Jr., president or Wellington Management Inc., added that the principle reason Richfield is interesting to LA Fitness is because there's more demand from consumers in that area. He and Brekken also said, with the increase in traffic would enhance business for the surrounding retailers as well.
As far as competition goes, Richfield Community Development Director said he was unsure if the addition of LA Fitness would majorly affect the other facilities. He mentioned that all the facilities appeal to all different types of consumers and as far as the city was concerned, the possibility of too much competition isn’t a reason to stonewall development.
“When somebody comes in for zoning and something like that, we can't tell them ‘No’ because of our concerns about competition,” Stark said. “So I really don’t have a good answer on the [competition] piece.”
While Brekken, Wellington and Stark didn’t want to speculate about whether or not the new gym may be too much competition for the other businesses, Richfield’s Snap Fitness Owner Kevin Oliver told Patch he was definitely expecting some competition.
"[While Snap Fitness] is more of a neighborhood gym … to think it won't affect us is crazy, of course it will affect us,” Oliver said. “[It’s another fitness center] and it would be right around the corner from us.”
Unfortunately, LA Fitness and Bally’s Total Fitness declined to comment after repeated inquiries from Richfield Patch. Stark said the city had yet to talk to Bally’s Total Fitness about this issue, too.
Talks continue on potential development for the site and Wellington said other retailers have approached him about occupying space including a local hardware store and a restaurant.
Richfield Patch wants to know what residents think about this issue. Please weigh-in in the comments section below. The Richfield City Council is scheduled to have a special work session Tuesday night regarding the redevelopment project. Richfield Patch will be there to get the latest scoop.