Total Fitness Athletic Center is making plans for moving into another old theater complex this time one that's currently operating.
The health club, which has been closed since a March 5 fire, intends to take over space currently occupied by Plaza Six Theaters, 2339 Iowa. The move would force the theaters to close or relocate.
Marty Tuley, owner of Total Fitness, said he expected to sign a lease for the property next week, take possession Aug. 1 and have a weight room and two rooms devoted to cardiovascular exercise open by mid-September.
The entire 24,000-square-foot club would be up and running by mid-October, he said, with about $650,000 in equipment and interior finishes.
"It's awesome," Tuley said. "It's positive to have some direction about where we're going and to have some questions answered."
But other questions remain. A Plaza Six official said Wednesday that he was unaware of any plans for his six screens to move or close.
"We have a lease in effect," said Ben Moore, district manager for Hollywood Theaters, which owns the Plaza Six and Southwind 12 in Lawrence. "They'd have to buy us out. This is the first I've heard about it."
Total Fitness has been closed since a fire destroyed the 20,000-square-foot club at 901 Iowa, inside the former home of Hillcrest Theaters in the Hillcrest Shopping Center. Tuley had hoped to rebuild at the site, but he said that the process wasn't moving fast enough to be open in time for fall.
Tuley recently turned his attention to the Plaza Six, which is located in a shopping center owned by Block Properties VII LLC, of Kansas City, Mo.
David Block, senior vice president for Block and Co. Inc. Realtors of Kansas City, Mo., and representative for the ownership group, said that his firm had discussed the theater site with Tuley.
Those discussions are expected to continue, Block said, but as of Wednesday evening, nothing was signed.
"Eventually, I'm sure Hollywood wants to get out of there," Block said. "If the right tenant came along, I would think Hollywood Theaters would consider vacating the premises. But right now, we're just plugging along."
Next week, Tuley said, Total Fitness employees will begin calling the club's more than 3,000 members to notify them of the relocation plan.
Members' contracts frozen since the fire will resume once the club opens, Tuley said. Anyone wanting to delay a membership's resumption until the entire club is open will be allowed to do so.
"If somebody's adamant about that then we'll be able to handle it," Tuley said.
Four club members have filed complaints with Kansas Atty. Gen. Carla Stovall, upset about being locked into contracts with no club to attend.
Tuley described the complaints as "inconsequential," considering the number of positive comments he'd received since the fire.
He said that he'd already received adequate settlements from insurance policies to finance the relocation and reopening.
"When we reopen, we'll hit a stride," he said. "I don't anticipate any drop-off."