The owner of two Planet Fitness locations in the Fredericksburg area plans to open a third in part of the long-vacant Ukrop’s grocery store on State Route 3 early next year.

Bill Asbell has leased 19,689 square-feet of the 63,000 square-foot building for the gym.

He “is a highly successful, multi-unit Planet Fitness franchisee with locations in Fredericksburg, Richmond, Roanoke & Charlottesville.,” said James Ashby IV of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer. “He and the Planet Fitness brand will be a great addition to the project.”

James Ashby {span}IV of Cushman & Wakefield | Thalhimer{/span}, who is representing the landlord along with Virgil Nelson, said that they are in talks about leasing the rest of the space to either one or two other tenants. He said that there has been interest from specialty grocers and from Central Park tenants interested in relocating in a smaller space.

”We’d love to have a grocer there. Fitness centers and groceries feed off each other,” Ashby said.

Ukrop’s opened at 4250 Plank Road in 1997 and closed the store in 2010 after Giant–Carlisle, a division of Ahold USA, bought the Richmond-based grocery chain for $140 million. The purchase did not include that location, and the company continued paying above-market rent to Cedar Realty Trust Inc. until August of 2017.

W.T.F.H.I.D, LLC purchased the building and its 6.15-acre site from the New York-based real estate investment trust for $2.2 million last January.

Asbell said that he decided to lease space in the former Ukrop’s because of the surrounding area’s demographics and its distance from his other area Planet Fitness locations. Both of those are about 15 minutes from each other.

”When we do our assessment of a trade area or demographic capacity, we look at population, drive time from other clubs,” he said. “When I looked at the overall Fredericksburg–Spotsylvania territory, it seemed like the one area that was still viable for me to put a club would be on Plank Road somewhere west of 95. I felt if it was east of 95, it would be too close to existing clubs.”

The new Planet Fitness will be similar to the one he opened in 2017 in Cosner’s Corner. It’s a newer model than the one he launched in 2013 in Eagle Village, and will include a couple pieces of cardio and strength-training equipment geared toward helping those in wheelchairs or who have limited lower body strength.

”It’s also very popular with seniors, the elderly and those doing prescribed physical therapy for rehab for an injury,” Asbell said. “That equipment tries to provide something that often gets ignored in the general health club population because it’s not a big segment of the population. We want to help people at whatever fitness level they are.”

—Cathy Jett

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Cathy Jett: 540/374-5407

cjett@freelancestar.com

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