CrossFit gym leaves DeSoto Square mall for Palmetto

cschelle@bradenton.comApril 10, 2014 

MANATEE -- After spending four months in the former Boater's World at DeSoto Square mall, CrossFit Havoc decided that the mall wasn't right for a gym.

"We tried our best at the mall and the mall tried their best to accommodate us, but I think the demographics of the area weren't supporting our price structure," said CrossFit affiliate owner and trainer Jim Denofa.

The high-intensity gym had moved into the 11,000-square-foot space in November after a temporary stay in a smaller space at the mall hoping to offer something different. At the beginning of March, the gym moved to a 10,000-square-foot warehouse at 139 17th St. E in Palmetto.

The gym charges $100 a month for members, a steep price for people living around the mall and those who still come to the mall.

"Basically teenaged kids asking if the gym was free, and I had to tell them, 'No, it's not free,'" Denofa said. "We also had seniors asking to walk through the gym to get to the mall."

The new spaces allows the gym to be in a standalone building where the loud music and weights dropping on the floor won't bother neighboring mall tenants or mall customers, Denofa said. The building also provides an open area and as well as space for classes, he added.

The gym filled one of the mall's largest vacant tenant spaces, but its departure now leaves a big hole. The mall has more than 15 vacancies, several of which are long term including the former FootLocker that closed in 2009. Five empty store fronts are clustered around Sears, including the former CrossFit and another five at an entrance near JC Penney. The food court also has two large vacancies.

One recent addition at the mall is a Scooby Doo-themed party room for children parties, operated by Los Angeles nonprofit Project Give, which focuses on helping at-risk mid

dle school students through community service.

Mall General Manager Richard Bedford did not return requests for comment.

The mall's biggest empty space, a former Dillard's, will soon be filled by a Hudson's Furniture Showroom after the mall's owners Mason Asset Management signed the Florida chain to a 10-year lease in January.

The 100,000-square-feet space is being renovated and painted now, and Hudsons is accepting applications for more than 30 permanent positions.

Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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