BERLIN — Berlin Mall officials said they’ve found the perfect new tenant in leading international health-club franchiser Planet Fitness to re-occupy 15,000 square feet of prime mall space.
“We’ve been searching for years to find the right tenant for this high-profile space,” said Ken Simon, vice president of Heidenberg Properties Group, owners of Berlin Mall LLC.
“In addition to providing Central Vermont residents with a meaningful service at great value, Planet Fitness provides good jobs for the area’s work force.”
Berlin Mall LLC, the owner of Berlin Mall, announced it has signed a long-term lease with Planet Fitness. The company has approximately 10 million members and more than 1,300 stores in 48 states, the District of Columbia, Canadfa, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Berlin Mall marks the fourth Planet Fitness franchise in Vermont in addition to locations in Essex Junction, South Burlington and St. Albans.
“Planet Fitness is very excited to (be) bringing our non-intimidating, high-quality, and affordable experience to the Central Vermont community,” said Rich Childs, director of corporate club operations. “We feel that our welcoming environment resonates with people and communities where people are looking for a place to work out where they feel comfortable and free of judgment.”
The Berlin Mall location will occupy 15,000 square feet of newly renovated space, located beyond the mall’s main entrance. The space was formerly occupied by Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts before it relocated to West Lebanon, New Hampshire, several years ago, said Berlin Mall Manager Gerry Hanifin.
“It’s going to be a great addition,” Hanifin said of Planet Fitness. “You will be able to shop at the mall” after a good workout.
Hanifin said Planet Fitness dovetails with sports-related mall retailers such as GNC Live Well, Olympia Sports, and anchor stores JC Penney and Walmart.
“It’s just fantastic for us. All of our tenants are excited. There has been a need in this area for a really good health club,” he said. (Planet Fitness) rounds out the attractiveness (of the mall) and makes it more of a destination.
“The addition of Planet Fitness, and community events like Walk the Long Trail at Berlin Mall, further our goals of revitalizing the mall property, creating good local jobs, and providing residents and visitors to the area with a positive shopping experience,” Hanifin added.
Planet Fitness, based in Hampton, NH, is credited for having revolutionized the fitness industry with low prices and membership benefits, including a “hassle-free” environment called the Judgement Free Zone. Planet Fitness locations offer brand-name cardio and strength equipment, locker rooms, as well as flat-screen TVs to watch while working out.
The Berlin Mall location is the first in Vermont to be owned by Planet Fitness Corporate, Simon said.
Simon said Berlin Mall LLC was looking “not just for any tenant but the tenant that would complement the rest of the mall. We purposely waited for just the right tenant. We are at that point.”
Childs said the Berlin Mall location will include more than 150 pieces of cardio equipment and a PF Black Card Spa, with amenities such as HydroMassage, tanning, and massage chairs.
“If members are unsure of how to use equipment, they can take advantage of free, unlimited personal training with one of our certified trainers,” Childs said.
Childs said the cost of the project is confidential, but the economic benefit will include the creation of jobs.
“The number of positions is still to be determined, but we look forward to inviting members of the Berlin community to joint our team. A typical Planet Fitness employs between 12 [and] 15 employees,” he said.
Berlin Mall LLC purchased the mall in 2010, and in 2012 the mall received Act 250 and local zoning approval to expand Walmart to a Walmart Supercentre offering a full-service grocery store. In addition to JC Penney, the mall added a third department store when Kohl’s opened in March 2016.
“We bought the mall with the idea of improving it,” Simon said.
The 250,000-square-foot enclosed mall opened in 1986. It currently has spaces for 24 stores of varying size, including space for 20 kiosks. Simon said the mall is nearly 100 percent occupied.
Planet Fitness is expected to open in December 2017 or early 2018. The company will host a membership drive in the fall.
For more information, www.planetfitness.com.