In-Shape Health Clubs, Inc., won their bid to build a Lodi branch when their use permit was approved by the Lodi Planning Commission on Wednesday.
The new gym will replace Apple Market in the Lakewood Mall Shopping Center.
Paul Rothbard of Stockton, CEO of In-Shape Health Clubs, said his company has been asked to open a Lodi branch for two decades. Many of their branches in other California cities are housed in former grocery stores, he added.
"Boxes are getting empty. We have been a great alternative anchor tenant in other shopping malls," he said.
According to plans submitted to the city, the club will have weight and cardio rooms, racquetball courts, an indoor swimming pool and a group cycling room.
The gym plans to expand a mezzanine that exists in Apple Market to about 3,950 square feet, and hold group exercise classes in that area, according to plans.
There will also be a steam room and sauna, a child-care center for children 6 months and older, and certified personal trainers, Clark said. The entire club will be 32,093 square feet.
Apple Market opened in 1999, and is still open. While there is no specific timeline on when In-Shape plans to move into the location, gym representatives said they would like to be open by the end of 2013.
The building has been used since the 1950s as a grocery store, and first housed a store called Sell-Rite. The building was demolished and rebuilt in 1998 and was occupied briefly by another grocery store before Apple Market opened.
In-Shape has 63 locations total in Northern and Southern California.
The gym plans to be open 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
Jay Allen, an attorney representing property owners Stone Brothers and Associates, explained some of the history of the location as a grocery store, and said markets which are not part of a chain or larger company struggle to survive.
"Our preference was to keep a grocery store in Lakewood Mall. We have failed at that," he said. Many potential tenants for the spot were reluctant to compete with the Walmart Supercenter planned for Lodi.
Allen said the Stone Brothers were sensitive to the petition signed by neighbors, but it was based on a false choice.
"It's not between In-Shape or Apple Market. It's between In-Shape or a dark store," he said.
The owners of Apple Market are leaving the grocery business and retiring, so the market would close regardless of whether the new gym moves in or not.
"Rarely when an anchor store goes out to you see an upgrade in use. Normally there is a downgrade. But In-Shape isn't a downgrade, it's a change of use," he said.
Allen said he has heard no negative comments from other tenants. The only opposition is from neighbors reluctant to see a local grocery store close.
Commissioner Randy Heinitz removed himself from the commission since he is a fellow tenant in the same shopping center.
Heinitz instead spoke to the commission as a neighboring shop owner. He owns Randall's Fine Clothing in Lakewood Mall.
"I know the Apple Market family and they are tired. They are going to retire. God bless them. I wish I could," he said.
Heinitz said he and other tenants are pleased there won't be an empty shop at the end of the property.
Only one man spoke in opposition to the health club.
Normally, projects requiring city or county permits must complete certain environmental reviews according to the California Environmental Quality Act.
Modesto attorney George Petrulakis said the city was relying on an invalid exception to CEQA to avoid conducting an environmental review.
"Using this exception masks any potential impacts of the project that should be in the public eye," he said after the meeting.
According to Commissioner Dave Kirsten, those exceptions are up to interpretation, and Petrulakis is welcome to file an appeal if he chooses.