Planet Fitness leasing former Erickson’s Thriftway in Bend

Planet Fitness plans to build its first Central Oregon gym in the former Erickson’s Thriftway on Greenwood Avenue in Bend.

“We had been eying the area for over two years,” said Tanner Halton, owner of the Planet Fitness franchise for suburban Portland and other parts of Oregon.

He signed a lease on the 22,000 square-foot space in July and hopes to have the gym open at the beginning of 2018. Demolition of the interior is underway.

The cost of opening the gym will range from $2.2 million to $2.5 million, depending on how much work is required on the former Erickson’s facade, he said.

Erickson’s went out of business in October after operating at 725 NE Greenwood Ave. since 1956.

The company was founded in Bend more than 100 years ago.

The Erickson family sold the grocery business more than 40 years ago but retained ownership of the buildings in Bend, Madras and Prineville through Mid-Oregon Corp., according to The Bulletin’s archives.

With Planet Fitness as an anchor, the landlord hopes to lease two other vacant spaces in the strip mall to health or activity-oriented businesses, said Dennis Kerr, a broker who represents Arthur Erickson of Mid-Oregon Corp. D’s Hobbies recently moved to a location on N. U.S. Highway 97, and the Pill Box pharmacy closed at the end of 2016, Kerr said. The two stores leave a total of 9,700 square feet to lease, he said. Three other businesses, Autry’s 4 Seasons Florist, the dance studio Gotta Dance and baby store Baby Phases, are operating in the shopping center.

It’s common for Planet Fitness to take up former grocery-store spaces, Halton said, so he scouts even those grocery stores that are operating.

In Bend, Halton said he negotiated with the owners of the vacant Ray’s Food Place on the west side but didn’t complete a deal because the roof of the building collapsed in January under the weight of snow.

“Overall, the fitness market is extremely competitive in Bend,” said Noelle Fredland, marketing director for the Old Mill District. The Old Mill signed a lease with Orangetheory Fitness, a national chain that offers heart-rate monitored workouts. The local Orangetheory franchisee is building out with plans to open in October or November. Another fitness-related franchise, Pure Barre, closed its doors in the Old Mill this month, Fredland said.

Bend has its share of full-service gyms.

“In general, Bend’s pretty saturated with fitness centers,” said Travis Kinyon, manager of the Anytime Fitness, a national chain with a location on Simpson Avenue. Anytime competes with Snap Fitness, which has four locations in Bend, and Fitness 1440, he said.

Planet Fitness might be the first national chain in Bend to target novice gym-joiners. The company markets itself as the “no judgment zone” because it discourages any behavior, including grunting and dropping weights, that would intimidate or discourage another member.

Halton said 52 percent of the members at his Planet Fitness locations had never before joined a gym.

“We see a really under-served market,” Halton said.

—Reporter: 541-617-7860, kmclaughlin@bendbulletin.com

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