Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

October 4, 2012

Marshalls site filled Shawsheen Plaza

Planet Fitness, Sport Clips coming to mall

Judy Wakefield
Staff Writer

---- — A huge retail hole at Shawsheen Plaza is being filled — finally — as workout chaine Planet Fitness is moving into the former Marshalls retail space. Another, smaller empty retail space at the plaza will be leased by Sport Clips, a hair salon chain that specializes in haircuts for men. Sport Clips will move into the former K2 Indian Bazaar space, next to Elements.

From a retail perspective, Shawsheen Plaza has been quiet for well over a year as at least four businesses have left and replacement tenants have been tough to find. But there seems to be a new trend emerging as three of those retail spaces are no longer empty. The Indian bistro restaurant, Raagini’s, opens soon at the former Card Smart space, leaving the former Tuesday Morning space on the plaza’s empty list.

The former Marshalls site has been vacant for 18 months. Planet Fitness filed plans last week with the zoning board to begin its permit process to occupy the space. First up, is a variance request to allow the installation of a 200-foot Planet Fitness sign. The town limits retail sign size to 80 feet. But, Marshalls had a 200-foot sign above its main entrance and the request is expected to be approved, according to a Planet Fitness spokesman.

The sign variance issue comes up at tonight’s Oct. 4, zoning and board of appeals meeting. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at Memorial Hall Library, second floor.

“We’ve already met with planning officials and showed them our plans...the sign is appropriate,” said Taylor Mandell, regional manager for Planet Fitness franchises located in Essex and Middlesex counties.

Plans on file in the town’s zoning office show seven gooseneck lights decorating the words “Planet Fitness” as the grand entrance sign. Planet Fitness is called an anchor store at Shawsheen Plaza in those plans which argue that a big sign identical to the size of the former Marshalls sign is therefore warranted.

Stop & Shop owns Shawsheen Plaza and just announced that Sport Clips will be opening in the former K2 InBazaar space, Suzi Robinson, Public & Community Relations, Stop & Shop New England Division, said in an email.

“Sport Clips will be opening in the near future as well. I don’t have dates,” Robinson said. “We have several other deals in the works, but cannot confirm anything else yet.”

But, Planet Fitness is confirmed. The site is a 17,500-square-foot space that will be filled with workout equipment, Mandell said.

While there are other Planet Fitness gyms nearby, including in Tewksbury and Danvers, Mandell said Andover’s demographic was a key reason why the gym wants to be located in town.

Mandell said the tentative grand opening date is Jan. 15, 2013.

“We’ll have our pre-sale memberships in mid-November,” he also said.

Described online as “the most innovative health club brand in the United States, known for absurdly low prices,” Planet Fitness costs about $15 for a monthly membership.

Meanwhile, Sports Clips boasts a hip barbershop theme on its website. The salons are equipped with flat screen televisions playing sports, and there are massage chairs in the shampoo area.