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LA Fitness buys site near Washington Square, boosting area

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LA Fitness plans to build a gym on the former home of a Loews movie theater adjacent to Washington Square Mall in the latest sign of progress for a retail submarket that has struggled with vacancies.

Locally based Sandor Development Co., which owns the 5.5-acre site at the southwest corner of Washington Street and Mitthoeffer Road, has the parcel under contract with the California-based LA Fitness, which operates 10 central Indiana fitness centers.

La Fitness plans to start work soon on a 35,000-square-foot fitness center, said Sandor founder Sidney D. Eskenazi, who had been working to find a new use for the vacant property for several years.

The former Cherry Tree 10 movie theater closed in 2005, and Sandor demolished the building a few years later. It had opened in the late 1980s.

While Washington Square Mall has struggled—its small-shop space is more than half vacant and national retailers have fled, leading to a big tax refund for owner Simon Property Group Inc.—the surrounding area remains a strong regional shopping draw, in contrast with Lafayette Square, which faces more competition from newer retail offerings farther west in Avon and Brownsburg.

Freestanding retailers and strip centers anchored by national retailers have proliferated.

"It's a stable, diverse demographic that lives out there," said Mark Perlstein, a principal in locally based Sitehawk Retail Real Estate. "It's a fairly large market that needs to be served."

Sitehawk manages the fully leased Cherry Tree Crossing, where Qdoba, McAlister's and Mattress Firm are anchors and vacancies are snapped up quickly, Perlstein said.

A few years ago, Thompson Thrift finished a new retail strip anchored by The Vitamin Shoppe and Aspen Dental just outside the mall. CVS built a new store at the southeast corner of Washington and Mitthoeffer, and Chuck E. Cheese’s moved to the same corner from a spot just east of Interstate 465.

Late last year, Columbus, Ohio-based Big Lots took over a vacant Circuit City store in the Washington Place center at 10235 E. Washington St., and Goodwill bought property in front of the mall with plans to build a new freestanding store.

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  • Downtown LA Fitness
    Great to hear the Washington Square area is getting some attention! Now if only LA Fitness could build a downtown Indy gym!
  • LA Fitness
    Hope LA Fitness pays their designers. They didn't for the one they closed at 116th Street and Allisonville.

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  1. I keep wondering why I keep hearing about this problem of corporations leaving America, and I never hear a reasonable proposal to lower corporate tax rates and raise personal rates on income from capital gains and dividends, especially for high earners. It is just too simple of a solution for Congress to embrace?

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  3. is a disaster. SR37 already needs to be built to interstate standards between 465 and SR144. Southport Road is a mess each morning and evening.

  4. Bass Pro Shops would be good for the mall as well as a Giant Eagle Market District or a Jungle Jim's International Market Place grocery store like the one near Cincinnati Ohio.A Disney quest indoor theme park would be good.An Academy outdoor store would be good too.Indoor Circus shows and magic shows would be good as well. A casino with sports bar would be good.A Disney theater inside that shows movies and Broadway shows would work.Nashville Tennessee concert shops with indoor neon lights would be good.How about a theater that shows travel shows and theme parks. A train store would be good.How about a giant toy store with high tech video games.

  5. This development is in addition to Allpoints Midwest 5, Aitrtek, a recent FedEx and more in Plainfield. Greenwood and Brownsburg also have similar projects.

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