Bowie Town Center looks to bulk up with gym -- Gazette.Net



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Despite a number of existing options, officials at the Bowie Town Center hope the addition of a gym will help pump up interest in the shopping center.

Simon Property Group, which owns the center, is seeking to redevelop a vacant storefront that previously housed Bed Bath and Beyond with a LA Fitness Gym.

The Prince George’s County Council passed CB-110 on Nov. 20, which altered the zoning of the town center, to allow for an exercise center at the mall. Simon Property Group, which is based in Indianapolis, Ind., received the City Council’s blessing for the plan during its Jan. 7 meeting. The proposal will ultimately need the approval of the County Council to move forward.

Bowie area residents already have alternatives for their workouts, including another LA Fitness in Gambrills less than nine miles from the town center.

Marie Johnson, manager of the Fitness 4 Less, in the Bowie Plaza off Route 197, which is about three miles from the centers said the potential opening of another health club in the area didn’t worry her. The area though is fairly saturated with fitness clubs, Johnson said.

“All clubs have something unique about them,” she said. “If you’re doing your job you don’t have to worry.”

Steve Andrews, the town center’s general manager, said he could not comment on plans for the facility until an agreement was finalized.

Putting a gym in the vacant storefront was something the mall needed, said Richard Villanueva, a manager at the Sports Zone, a shoe and apparel store across from the former Bed Bath and Beyond site.

While the store did well over the holiday, business seemed unusually slow at the shopping center since then and the mall seems to be struggling, he said.

“I think [the town center] is going down,” he said. “There’s nothing really to see here that people want to come to.”

A gym would complement the Sports Zone well, Villanueva said.

“Most of the people who are coming into my store are looking for athletic gear,” he said.

Jenny Huttenloch of Upper Marlboro, who said she shops at the center once a week, said it could attract some people to the gym even if the addition wouldn’t entice her.

“I’m not an exercise person,” she said.

Amy Stewart of Bowie said she wasn’t sure whether a gym would make her come to the mall more often.

“The only thing that would make me more likely to come would be if it were cheap,” Stewart said.

amccombs@gazette.net