Opportunities in the making: Cheetah Gym
As I wrote previously in One step backwards, two steps forward on Milwaukee Avenue, Cheetah Gym is on again!
Though you can’t see it behind the covered windows, if you walk by the former Grace’s Furniture store building at 2616-2618 N. Milwaukee Avenue you can hear that demolition work has begun toward conversion of the space for a new branch of Chicago-based Cheetah Gym.
Cheetah Gym currently has three Chicago locations: Andersonville, Bucktown (actually in Wicker Park by most definitions), and Edgewater. At 32,000 square feet on six floors (including the basement), Logan Square will be the largest of the gyms.
This promises to bring daily foot traffic to this stretch of Milwaukee Avenue, however I don’t have membership numbers from other locations to quantify it. Hours haven’t yet been set, but likely will be the same as at other locations: Monday – Thursday from 5:00 a.m. to 11 p.m., Friday from 5:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Cheetah Gym plans for Logan Square include a pro shop and café in the building as well.
The historic Grace’s Furniture sign will remain, though the text will change to Cheetah Gym. The front will retain an expanse of windows that will be transparent so passersby can see the activity going on inside (the first floor is planned for group exercise classes).
The formerly proposed plans have changed a bit and Cheetah Gym is still working out the details for construction/conversion, but the good news is that the south side facing the southwestern “el” entrance will have lots of windows instead of the existing solid brick wall that had been used for a giant billboard for years, and most recently has been painted black. (There is still that pesky billboard on top of the building.)
Acknowledging that Cheetah Gym has some ground to make up with its potential customers after the past couple of years of on again, internal upheaval (see the extensive comments at this Chicagoist post for the extent of the upheaval), off again instability, regional manager Angie Frank does not want to accept new memberships until she knows that construction/conversion work has actually begun. She expects that to be in February 2009, but there are always potential hiccups and road blocks in the City’s permitting process. If all goes well, Cheetah Gym will open in Logan Square in late summer of 2009.
It’s important to note that Cheetah Gym is under new ownership. It was the new owner’s affinity for light, openness and fitting in with the neighborhood that contributed to the decision to include windows on the south side. I think that bodes well.
Angie Frank also states that Cheetah Gym is active in the other communities in which it operates, working with the local Chambers of Commerce and schools, for example. She also wanted to express her appreciation to a Logan Square community that has been quite welcoming. They’re excited to come to Logan Square.
The Exquisite City, City of Cardboard and Exquisite Windows closing reception Friday, December 12, from 6:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. at The Viaduct Theater, 3111 N. Western Ave.