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Approval of Orangetheory Fitness could end long tenant drought in Plaza de La Cañada

Approval of Orangetheory Fitness could end long tenant drought in Plaza de La Cañada
Planning commissioners will consider in a July 11 meeting whether to approve a minor conditional use permit for an Orangetheory Fitness in the former space of Zeli Coffee Bar, which closed in June 2017 just shy of its 21st anniversary. (Sara Cardine / La Cañada Valley Sun)

After a long vacancy created by the closure of three businesses in 2017, a stretch of storefront in the Plaza de La Cañada shopping center is slowly coming back to life as permits are filed with the city’s planning department.

On Thursday the La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission will hear a request for a minor conditional use permit to operate a 2,047-square-foot Orangetheory Fitness studio in the center, located at 639 Foothill Blvd, near Gelson’s Market.

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The new tenant space would incorporate the former site of Zeli Coffee Bar, which closed on June 30, 2017— days shy of its 21st anniversary, according to city records — and a portion of the storefronts previously occupied by Urban Army fitness studio, which closed the same day as Zeli after 13 years of service, and Goodie Girls cupcakes, shuttered the following month.

A combined 4,126 square feet of space is being reconfigured to accommodate Orangetheory and a new Club Pilates studio, a separate business approved in April. Signs on the storefronts promise the new businesses are “coming soon.”

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Orangetheory owner Gary Hirsch is seeking a conditional use permit to occupy the shopping center, designated as Mixed Use 1 in the city’s Downtown Village Specific Plan, which allows for retail operations but not specifically for fitness centers, according to city planner Harriet Harris.

Planning commissioners will also consider the impact a fitness center could have on parking in the popular shopping center. Harris said because a single fitness class will accommodate up to 24 students, the city asked the business to conduct a traffic study.

Orangetheory’s traffic study indicates while Plaza de La Cañada offers 367 parking spaces in the main area and behind the retail stores, Orangetheory would likely demand no more than 28 spaces if each class were at capacity and the center was fully staffed.

“They looked at the center’s lot as a whole, and there is a lot of parking that’s underutilized,” Harris said of the spaces behind Rite Aid and other businesses. “It’s like the city’s best kept secret.”

The La Cañada Flintridge Planning Commission meets Thursday, July 11 at 6 p.m. in City Hall, 1 Civic Center Drive. For information, call (818) 790-8881.

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