new fitness club ,dance studio

A three-story modern fitness club and new dance studio are headed to Toringdon Circle, a mixed-use development in the Ballantyne area, on Johnston Road just north of Interstate 485. Medical offices at the four-year-old center are 98 percent occupied, and the retail space is working its way back from the blow struck by the recession, said Marla Sessoms of Brackett Co., who handles leasing for the property. The development is owned by Nationwide Realty Investors of Columbus, Ohio, and also includes Pike Nursery and Hickory Tavern, Sticky Fingers and Ruby Tuesday restaurants.

The biggest addition is a 42,000-square-foot Urban Active fitness club, the first North Carolina location and 36th overall for a Lexington, Ky.-based chain. Set to open in the fall, the $8 million to $13 million gym aims to be cutting-edge, with distinct amenities. Among them: A surround-sound "cardio movie theater" that will show sporting events, concerts and movies on a wall-sized projection screen, in a darkened room full of cardio equipment. The gym will also include a kids' playroom to serve different age groups, tanning beds, a pro shop, a smoothie bar, a women's-only fitness area, racquetball courts, a lap pool and a Spinning studio. All cardio equipment will include an individual flat-screen television. (The Charlotte location will resemble a new Urban Active in Columbus, Ohio, shown above. Snow, presumably, is not included.)

"The demographics are perfect for us," said KT Remus, Urban Active's marketing director. She noted the chain's more established markets have multiple locations, and that it is looking for the opportunity to grow further in the Carolinas. A preview center selling memberships will open nearby in April, Remus said. Prices generally range from $35 to $55 a month, with discounted rates before the club opens.

Also on the way is Carolina Dance Capital, a 8,600-square-foot dance studio slated to open in August. The company has been operating as Weir Dancin' in Matthews for the last decade, and the Ballantyne location will be its second studio. The school offers all styles of dance training for ages 2 to adult, and will have six state-of-the-art studios at the new location, according to a news release. It will occupy a space that originally consisted of five storefronts, three of which were vacant, Sessoms said. The other two housed a coffee house and a health resource center, but they closed - largely due to the recession, which has led to considerable turnover in Ballantyne, as many new, small businesses were unprepared to weather the dropoff, Sessoms said. A gourmet foods store in the center also closed, and some spaces have never been filled.

"I think the timing really was the key, and it's the key now to turn it around," Sessoms said. She's been recruiting tenants to bolster the center, and aiming to give it a fitness flavor.

Other changes at Toringdon Circle within the last year include the opening of Cru Wine Shop, which is in the former Vintage Wine Cellar space, the arrival of State Farm insurance agent Wil Brooks' office and the opening of Rullo di Pasta Italian Cafe & Bakery in a space that had been vacant.