EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is in response to a reader-submitted question through Open Source, a platform where readers can submit questions to the staff.
MOUNT VERNON -- The short answer?
Yes. The rumors are true.
Planet Fitness, a New Hampshire-based fitness center franchisor and operator with more than 2,000 clubs worldwide, is coming to Mount Vernon.
The company plans to open a facility in the Gateway Plaza shopping center, located at 1558 Coshocton Ave., Communications Specialist Heather Pearson said Friday. It will occupy the former Staples storefront on the far-east end of the property.
"Construction will be underway soon and we anticipate an early summer opening," Pearson said in an email.
There had been inklings Planet Fitness was coming.
While Mayor Matt Starr said he's heard nothing from the company, City Development Services Manager Lacie Blankenhorn said she recently received two emails from Planet Fitness-affiliated contractors.
One asked about whether a fitness center would be permitted on the property, which is zoned General Business (Blankenhorn said yes, it would). The other asked about sign regulations for the property.
"No one has applied for any permits," Blankenhorn said.
Staples moved out of the shopping center at the end of the year (it's unclear how long the office supply company served Mount Vernon, and why it decided to leave; Staples has not responded to requests for comment).
The east-end shopping plaza contains a diverse mix of businesses, including Comfort Dental, Rent-A-Center, Pearle Vision, Bombay Garden & Greek Eats, Ichiban Sushi & Hibachi, Dean's Jewelry, Verizon, Great Clips, SURGE Staffing, and Cheap Tobacco.
Planet Fitness has 106 clubs across Ohio, according to its website. The closest to Mount Vernon are located in Newark, Mansfield and Westerville.
Pearson said the new Mount Vernon facility "will provide state-of-the-art equipment, spacious areas and more all in a non-intimidating, Judgement Free Zone®."
The facility will feature cardio and strength equipment, including treadmills, ellipticals, rowers, stair climbers, and more, Pearson said. It will include a large functional training area with Synergy XM 360, TRX, ab training and stretching equipment.
There will be a "30-Minute Express Circuit training area," Pearson said, and Black Card members will have access to a spa that includes a wellness pod, hybrid beds for both tanning and TBE, hydro-massage loungers and massage chairs.
The facility will house locker rooms with granite counters, backlit mirrors, and ample lockers and showers, Pearson added.
"We are excited to bring our Judgment Free Fitness experience to the community," Pearson said. "We focus on providing what our members truly want in a gym experience for an extremely affordable price, and welcome everyone at any fitness level into our friendly, clean, non-intimidating environment."