Fitness chain puts Cortez Plaza into good shape

mjohnson@bradenton.comFebruary 4, 2014 

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The space where a Publix store closed in the Cortez Plaza mall in Bradenton in 2009 will be home to a new LA Fitness sometime in the near future. MATT M. JOHNSON/BRADENTON HERALD

MJOHNSON@BRADENTON.COM Buy Photo

BRADENTON -- The search for a new anchor tenant at Cortez Plaza has just shaped up.

Irvine, Calif.-based LA Fitness will open its fourth Bradenton athletic club at the 48-year-old strip mall, according to a lease it has signed with the mall's owner. The club will be built in a 42,112-square-foot space formerly occupied by a Publix grocery store that closed in 2009. The space's square footage will make the club one of the largest in the Bradenton market.

According to documents, LA Fitness International LLC signed a lease Jan. 8 with mall owner DDR Corp. of Beachwood, Ohio. LA Fitness also operates a 35,000-square-foot club it leases from DDR at its Creekwood Crossing mall at 7395 52nd Place E.

Representatives from LA Fitness and DDR declined to comment, but public documents show that the facility will have the same amenities as other LA Fitness locations in Bradenton. Activities will include swimming, sauna, spa, stationary cycling classes, racquetball and aerobics.

Although the company has posted a sign in front of Cortez Plaza announcing that an LA Fitness will be "coming soon," it has not indicated an opening date.

When it does open, it won't be the only fitness club in the area. In November, Jim Denofa opened Crossfit Havoc in an 11,000-square-foot space in the DeSoto Square Mall. Denofa said he does not expect LA Fitness to impact his business.

"I generally don't get worried when big clubs open because they're not our competitors," he said. "The way those places work, they're so big that they require thousands and thousands of members."

LA Fitness advertises a monthly membership rate of $29.99 on its website. Crossfit Havoc's approximate

ly 100 members pay $99 a month each for their memberships.

The company's newest club is in University Park at 8502 Cooper Creek Blvd. That club is housed in a new, 34,315-square-foot building owned by Benderson Development. Amenities at the club include a 25-yard, three-lane lap pool, facilities for aerobics and cycling classes, a basketball court, strength-training equipment, and aerobic training machines. LA Fitness also operates a club in the Oakmont Terrace mall at 4801 Cortez Road, owned by Benderson.

LA Fitness is leasing the second-largest space at Cortez Plaza. Burlington Coat Factory is the mall's biggest anchor tenant, occupying almost 85,000 square feet. Other tenants include PetSmart, HH Gregg and Shoe Carnival.

DDR has filled most of the space in the 274,642-square-foot mall. According to the company's website, about 17,500 square feet of vacant space remains, giving the mall an occupancy rate of about 94 percent.

Angela Varga, an adviser with the Bradenton office of Sperry Van Ness who deals in retail leasing, said landing an anchor tenant in the Cortez corridor can be a challenge. While the area has a high density of households and good drive-by traffic, area residents tend to have lower incomes.

LA Fitness, she said, can negate that last factor because its memberships are relatively inexpensive. It will draw traffic to Cortez Plaza.

"When you can visit a location and spend minimal dollars, the surrounding businesses are going to love it," Varga said.

Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027, or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.com.

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