Planet Fitness opening near Danbury Fair mall, filling open retail … – CT Insider

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The former Babies “R” Us store at Danbury Square on Backus Avenue in Danbury, Conn., where Planet Fitness is planning a new location next to Ocean State Job Lot which once housed Toys “R” Us.
A Planet Fitness gym on Federal Road in Danbury, Conn., with the chain eyeing a new location at the Danbury Square retail plaza near the Danbury Fair mall.
A Planet Fitness enrollment office in December 2022 at the Danbury Square plaza on Backus Avenue in Danbury, Conn. The chain is taking over a retail box once occupied by Babies “R” Us.
Planet Fitness is taking over the former Babies “R” Us storefront near the Danbury Fair mall, joining Ocean State Job Lot which opened last year to fill the space once occupied by Toys “R” Us.
Planet Fitness has an existing location on Danbury’s east side among three dozen in Connecticut, where it took over a former Borders Books location in a retail plaza it shares with P.C. Richard & Son. The company has other gyms in close proximity in Connecticut, including a pair in Milford and Orange that are three miles distant along the Post Road on opposite sides of the Connecticut Post Mall.
More than 54,000 people live within three miles of Danbury Square, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates published by the GIS software vendor Esri, nearly half of them renters.
As of Thursday, Planet Fitness had installed banks of flat screens for people to view while working out, but other work was continuing and fitness equipment was not visible. Planet Fitness did not respond immediately Thursday to a query on a target opening date.
Speaking last month on a conference call, Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said the chain opened 29 new locations between July and September, five more than in the third quarter of 2021, despite increased costs of construction across both materials and loans that franchisees must pay off over time.
“The pandemic is now behind us it seems like, and everybody’s thinking about how to get back on track, looking at real estate and driving marketing and sales and membership back to where it was,” Rondeau said in early November. “We’re well on our way today, which is great.”
Owned by the Greenwich-based retail landlord Urstadt Biddle Properties, Danbury Square is about to lose Barnes & Noble when it relocates to Danbury Fair, taking a dual-level storefront last occupied by Arhaus. Planet Fitness has its Connecticut Avenue gym in Norwalk at a former Barnes & Noble bookstore.
Urstadt Biddle currently lists the nearly 14,000-square-foot Barnes & Noble space in pre-leasing, indicating it has a potential replacement tenant lined up for the corner pad.
Other large tenants at Danbury Square include the Christmas Tree Shops, Guitar Center and Five Below, which has a second store inside Danbury Fair. Five Below also has a store at the North Street Shopping Center a few exits east on Interstate 84, making Danbury the only New England municipality where the discount chain has more than one location.
Connecticut is seeing renewed interest in big-box spaces, including at Danbury Fair where Target is taking over the remaining Sears space not occupied by Primark; and where Dick’s Sporting Goods expanded an existing store into adjacent space that was once used by Forever 21. Danbury Fair has yet to announce any new tenant for the vacant Lord & Taylor wing of the mall.
The building where Planet Fitness is fitting out its space has been used for “pop-up” Halloween stores the past few years while Urstadt Biddle has sought permanent tenants. 
The Danbury Square plaza is one of three shopping centers fronting Backus Avenue in close proximity to Danbury Fair, along with the smaller Airport Plaza across the street and the Shops at Marcus Dairy across from the mall, anchored by Whole Foods Market. 
Includes prior reporting by Kendra Baker and Luther Turmelle.
[email protected]; @casoulman

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