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New wellness center with float tanks opens in west Lawrence; update on longtime shopping center
In west Lawrence, I thought a sensory deprivation tank was an SUV without heated seats. But a Lawrence business is betting that west siders will take to the wellness trend of sensory deprivation tanks, more commonly called float tanks.
Perhaps you remember a business called Ad Astra Acupuncture near 11th and Massachusetts. Well, the company has changed its name to Ad Astra Wellness, moved to west Lawrence, doubled its space, and added three float tanks to its operations.
If you are not familiar with float tanks, you evidently aren’t a world-class athlete. Tom Brady, Steph Curry and other sports stars are talking about the benefits of floating. The process involves entering a tank that is free from light and free from sound. The tank has saltwater in it, which allows to you to float in a state of near weightlessness. The experience allows the body to experience a different type of relaxation, owner Barry Bornstein said.
“The weightlessness is really powerful,” Bornstein said. “For most people, they’ve never experienced that, and it allows your whole body to exhale and relax.”
The business moved to vacant space in the Orchards Shopping Center at Bob Billings and Kasold Drive to get the additional room needed for the float tanks. Each tank holds about 10 inches of water and about 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt, Bornstein said. One of the tanks is a couple’s tank, meaning that two people can enter at once.
“It is a bonding experience,” Bornstein said.
Float tanks aren’t an entirely new concept in Lawrence. I wrote about a downtown business that was installing one in April, and others have entered the market too, like Elevate at 14th and Massachusetts.
Ad Astra charges $50 for a one-hour float, Bornstein said. He said his customer base runs the gamut. Some people use a float tank to relieve anxiety. Others use it to relieve joint pain, and some women use it to relieve discomfort during pregnancy. Others use it to become more centered, free their mind and improve their concentration.
“It can be especially good for someone like a golfer where you have to be calm, and present and focus on your swing,” Bornstein said. (I can attest that my swing is marginally better underwater.)
Ad Astra Wellness is offering services beyond the float tanks. The business has continued its acupuncture practice. The business also has an infrared sauna, which uses a gentler heat source than traditional saunas. Bornstein said an infrared sauna operates at about 150 degrees instead of the 200 degrees of a regular sauna.
“You come out feeling refreshed rather than soggy and drained,” he said.
The business also has a product called the biomat, which is an infrared heat pad system that often is used in conjunction with acupuncture. And there also is something called a “brain tap,” which is a system that uses lighted goggles, headphones, music and guided meditations that can be helpful with stress management and addiction recovery, he said.
The company is located in the far north end of Orchards Corner shopping center in suite A-1.
In other news and notes from around town:
• While we're at the Orchards Shopping Center, now is a good time for an update on the longtime commercial area at Bob Billings and Kasold. The center has undergone a bit of a resurgence since it was bought by a company led by local businessman Bill Schulteis.
The shopping center has added about a half-dozen new tenants since Schulteis’ Cherry Hill Properties took over the center in June 2015. Among the new additions: Ad Astra Wellness, Jazzercise, Everest Liquors, the offices for the Manpower employment agency, and Sport and Spine.
Plus, Schulteis confirmed that a new promotional product company — think T-shirts, hats and other logo wear — called Fully Promoted has signed a deal to move into the center soon.
The approximately 40,000-square-foot shopping center now has just three vacant storefronts totaling about 4,500 square feet of space, which represents a decline in the shopping center’s vacancy rate.
Schulteis said the area seems to be drawing more attention from businesses, perhaps because of the recent opening of the Bob Billings interchange on the South Lawrence Trafficway. That interchange is expected to funnel more traffic along Bob Billings and into the western gateway of the KU campus.
“We haven’t seen the full impact of that yet,” Schulteis said.
That’s probably a true statement about the entire SLT project. It will be interesting to watch how traffic patterns change over the next few months, and to see which areas become more commercially active and which ones may suffer from changing traffic flow.