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Planet Fitness’ arrival among signs of a resurgent Lacey economy

Planet Fitness owner Chris Cavolo gives a Dec 15th tour of his new Planet Fitness location opening near Lacey's Woodland Square Loop. It has a planned February 2016 opening date.
Planet Fitness owner Chris Cavolo gives a Dec 15th tour of his new Planet Fitness location opening near Lacey's Woodland Square Loop. It has a planned February 2016 opening date. sbloom@theolympian.com

Planet Fitness, an up-and-coming chain of gyms that charge customers as little as $10 per month, is coming to the Woodland Square Loop area of Lacey — yet another sign of the area’s revival.

The business, which got its start in New Hampshire about 10 years ago, is set to open in a 20,000-square-foot space behind the Lacey Fred Meyer at the end of February, said Chris Cavolo, principal and operations director of the company, which owns 42 Planet Fitness gyms.

“There’s a great vibe in the area,” said Cavolo.

Others appear to be feeling that way, too, because a number of new developments have either been completed or are underway in Lacey’s core:

Among them:

▪ South Puget Sound Community College recently opened its Lacey campus on Sixth Avenue.

▪ MJR Development of Kirkland is renovating office buildings it owns around Huntamer Park. It recently leased 8,000 square feet to KPFF Consulting Engineers of Seattle.

▪ The owner of Ricardo’s Steakhouse in Lacey is renovating space in one of the MJR-owned buildings, with plans to relocate and expand his business there.

▪ The Sixth Avenue Place apartments recently sold for $13.2 million. That same building also is home to some street-level commercial space that for the first time in the building’s 8-year history has attracted a tenant: Indy Sandwich Co., which also has a location in Lakewood, is under construction in one of those spaces. The owner could not be reached Tuesday.

And now Planet Fitness is coming to fill a significant space in a building that has seen businesses close, such as Tony’s Jewelers.

“Bit by bit, the lights are coming on in these tenant spaces,” said Lacey building official Wade Duffy.

The city of Lacey has made a concerted effort to turn the Woodland District and its Woodland Square Loop area into a mixed-use destination, similar to a downtown. It created a strategic plan for the area, and certain aspects of the plan already have been enacted. The community college’s arrival earlier this fall was seen as a catalyst, and Lacey City Council recently approved a multifamily tax exemption for the area. The economy also has improved.

Planet Fitness owner Cavolo said Lacey met the criteria for a new location, including population size and household incomes. He also said he was aware of the nearby college, as well as plans to tear down one of the MJR-owned office buildings near Huntamer Park and replace it with apartments — potentially translating into more customers for a gym.

He said the business plans to invest about $2 million into the space: $1.2 million on construction and $900,000 on equipment. It will be home to 100 pieces of cardio equipment, he said.

Planet Fitness, according to Cavolo, takes a new approach to running a gym: It costs only $1 to join, it charges customers $10 or $20 a month, and it doesn’t believe in pressure sales. It also discourages users from acting like “lunks,” a term to describe those who might loudly grunt or drop weights while working out.

“We want people to feel comfortable here,” Cavolo said.

The business expects to employ 20 and will be open and staffed around the clock.

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