Locating fitness clubs in urban entertainment centers may be fast becoming a hot development trend, especially if the past few days in the Baltimore area are any indication.
The Cordish Co. has announced that Gold's Gym Maryland will build a 15,000-square-foot fitness complex at the Power Plant in the Inner Harbor, with equipment positioned so exercisers have dramatic views of the harbor as they work out.
On Wednesday, Cordish announced that Bally Total Fitness will open a health club next spring to anchor the Towson Circle project in the former Hutzler's department store.
The Cordish Co. -- known nationally for a new breed of urban entertainment centers that mix specialty retailers, restaurants and entertainment -- has found that health clubs work well as the entertainment component.
Health clubs are part of Cordish's Trolley Square, a mall in Salt Lake City, and Charleston Place, a hotel and mall project in Charleston, S.C. Cordish also hopes to bring a health club to the US Airways Arena project in Landover.
"I think it's brilliant," said Pat Esgate, president of Esgate and Associates in Nyack, N.Y., an entertainment industry analyst. "It's a great idea. I wouldn't be surprised to see it happening lots of places."
Esgate said that, although health clubs have long been affiliated with hotels and tourist markets, Cordish projects have an important distinction.
"To my experience, it's never been located in a place that offered other kinds of entertainment or something to do once you're done," Esgate said. "They're creating a new lifestyle magnet. They're focusing on people's out-of-home entertainment and lifestyle needs, and giving them one place for all those needs."
The Gold's Gym, slated to open in May, will have 30-foot-high ceilings and top-of-the-line fitness equipment, and will target downtown office workers and tourists. The facility will feature oak lockers, saunas, steam rooms, tanning facilities and
massages, and will have windows offering views of the city on four sides.
Gold's Gyms, which originated in California, operates more than 500 facilities worldwide.
"This is the last ingredient in putting together the Power Plant," said Joe Weinberg, executive vice president of the Cordish Co. "It's an amenity that we thought would be great for this location. It has the same brand-name recognition as some of our retail players."
Urban entertainment centers are on drawing boards around the country, said Andrew Zarnett, a leisure analyst with Ladenburg Thalmann, a New York City investment firm. "And when you try to think of what people want to do, health clubs come up on the top 10 list," he said.
Zarnett noted a large entertainment complex at the Mall of America in Minnesota that features a skating rink. Such projects can work at large regional malls because of the capital required to build a rink. The success of a health club in an urban entertainment center would depend on how much it costs to build, Zarnett said.
Kary Krieger, co-owner of the Gold's Gym to be located in the Power Plant, declined to provide details of construction cost or the number of people to be served at the proposed site.
He and his brothers own Gold's Gyms in Timonium, Towson and Annapolis, but believe this facility will offer a different experience because of its location.
"We're excited," he said. "The people who walk into this facility are going to be overwhelmed."
Pub Date: 12/25/98