Property around Interstate 64 and Green Mount Road continues to develop at breakneck speed, but one of the area’s early businesses is being pushed out.
Gold’s Gym in O’Fallon will close Oct. 25 after nearly 15 years in business.
“Our lease was up last month, and the owner of the building just wasn’t interested in renewing,” General Manager Jeremy Connelly said Monday. “It seems he has other plans for the property. It’s sad, but at the end of the day, it’s business, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
Company President and CEO Adam Zeitsiff gave a similar explanation in a letter emailed to members on Friday.
“After several attempts to come to a lease renewal agreement with the landlord, we had to make the difficult decision to permanently close,” he wrote.
The business opened in 2005 as a franchise, but the franchisee sold it back to the company nine months later. The current building owner, identified as “Cole GG O’Fallon, IL LLC” in St. Clair County records, couldn’t be reached for comment. Tax bills are mailed to the Dallas address of Gold’s Gym International headquarters.
Gold’s Gym is a tenant with no “ownership interest” in the property, but the lease requires it to pay the taxes, according to an emailed statement from the company’s PR firm.
Ted Shekell, community development director for the city of O’Fallon, said he doesn’t know details of the lease agreement or what is planned for the property.
“You hate to see any business close, and that includes Gold’s Gym,” he said. “But one of the positives is that it’s a great building along Interstate 64, so we’re confident that it’s going to be repurposed and put to good use.”
‘Largest fitness center in the Midwest’
Gold’s Gym opened at 1206 Central Park Drive in January of 2005, although members had been using a “preview center” on U.S. 50 for about a year. That was two years after Target moved from Fairview Heights to O’Fallon and became the first anchor in a 57-acre development known as Green Mount Crossing.
At the time, Gold’s Gym officials described their 40,000-square-foot facility as the “largest fitness center in the Midwest” with cardio and other equipment, a swimming pool, half basketball court, group exercise room and child-care center.
Today, the O’Fallon facility has about 5,500 members and 70 employees, Connolly said. Dues for October will be prorated, according to Zeitsiff’s letter.
“Everybody on the staff will have the opportunity to stay employed with the company if they wish to,” said Connelly, manager for about two years.
He noted that Gold’s Gym has 11 facilities on the Missouri side of the St. Louis metro area that will remain open.
In recent years, other large fitness centers have popped up along Interstate 64, including McKendree MetroRecPlex in O’Fallon and The Rec in Fairview Heights. Club Fitness opened last month at 1234 Central Park Drive, former location of a Gander Mountain store, less than half a mile from Gold’s Gym.
Longtime Gold’s Gym member Frank Bergman plans to join Club Fitness. As of Monday morning, he hadn’t seen Zietsiff’s letter, but he had heard about the closing from a friend.
“The way it was handed down definitely surprised me,” said Bergman, 57, of O’Fallon. “It was just boom, here you go. But I’ve talked to some other members, and it seems like the programs and amenities have not been attended to like they were when they first opened.”
Several new developments coming
As of Tuesday morning, news of the Gold’s Gym closing hadn’t made it to the website or Facebook page of the O’Fallon facility. A personal trainer posted a message Sunday to members of a public Facebook group called “Bootcamp O’Fallon.”
“It has been an absolute pleasure working with you all!” it read. “We will continue to have bootcamp classes until Oct. 20! I hope to see you all there until the end!”
The brick, two-story Gold’s Gym building sits in the center of a development boom that has been going on for years and shows no sign of slowing down. It’s a highly-visible landmark along Interstate 64.
In July, O’Fallon City Council approved three ordinances related to The Shops at Richland Creek, a $30 million, 17-acre development of retail stores and restaurants, bordered by Green Mount Road, Frank Scott Parkway and Central Park Drive.
“They’re very excited about coming, and we’re very excited to have them,” Shekell said, noting the developer is based in Nashville, Tennessee.
Going west on Central Park Drive, Serra Honda plans to expand its dealership on 15 acres across the road. On the north side of Interstate 64, the new St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon is building a cancer center.
“With the hospitals and the medical buildings and the restaurants and the hotels, (property in the Gold’s Gym area) is probably some of the hottest property in St. Clair County,” Shekell said.