Closed since March 2006, when the chain filed for bankruptcy, the Sports Authority building on Ray Road at 48th Street will soon come back to life as a new Mountainside Fitness gym, marking that franchise's return to Ahwatukee after nearly a 10-year absence.
Special to AFN

Mountainside Fitness is coming home.

The local gym chain recently purchased the former Sports Authority building in the Foothills Park Place Shopping Center on Ray Road and 48th Street.

It will now have a presence in Ahwatukee for the first time since the early 2000s.

Mountainside Fitness is going to invest nearly $3 million on top of the $7.3 million it paid for the building, said CEO Tom Hatten. Upon completion, the gym will occupy roughly 40,000 square feet of the 63,034-square-foot building.

Another tenant, Urban Air, will lease the remaining space, said Hatten.

Urban Air is a children’s entertainment venue. The forthcoming location will include a variety of attractions, including indoor trampolines and an elevated rollercoaster.

Hatten founded the company in Ahwatukee’s Mountainside Plaza in 1991 when he was a 23-year-old junior at Arizona State University.

He built much of the equipment himself along with a roommate and relied on help from family members to prepare the initial location and sell memberships.

“The people in Ahwatukee built Mountainside — they are the reason it exists,” said Hatten. “To be able to come back with a club of this size and magnitude is very special to me.”

Hatten had an interest in returning to Ahwatukee for years and described it as something of a passion project.

However, he was interested only in occupying this particular space. Two years ago, he contacted Sports Authority to determine the retailer’s future in the building and was put in contact with the building’s thenowner.

The site is prime real estate located in a shopping center with low vacancy rates, said CBRE’s Joseph R. Compagno, who represented the seller in the deal.

“Retailers are eager to have a presence in Phoenix’s Ahwatukee neighborhood, so we marketed the property to investors and tenants that didn’t already have a location on Ray Road,” Compagno added via email.

It will be a state-of-the-art Mountainside Fitness, Hatten said.

The gym’s cardio equipment will be hooked up to Cox Communication’s fiber network and feature iPad-like screens that allow users to access a range of options, including Netflix, personal email and workout information.

The gym will also feature childcare and interactive technology that allows members to keep track of their workouts via television screens throughout the gym. The screens communicate with smartwatches worn by members.

Members can purchase smart watches from Mountainside Fitness, though the system also works via Bluetooth with brands like Apple Watch and Fitbit, said Hatten.

The transformation of the space from traditional retail store to gym falls in line with trends seen across metro Phoenix as sellers and communities look for creative ways to fill space left vacant by struggling retail chains.

The original Mountainside Fitness location was replaced in 1996 by Mountainside Fitness’ first ground-up gym, an 18,000-square-foot facility at 32nd Street and Chandler Boulevard that closed in 2003.

Since that time, the company has expanded throughout metro Phoenix but has not returned to Ahwatukee. The company now operates 14 locations in Arizona, including five gyms in the East Valley.

Mountainside Fitness also operates a gym in Chase Field, the home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, in downtown Phoenix.

The Ray Road Sports Authority store closed almost immediately after the once-powerful Colorado-based chain store filed for bankrupcy with more than $1 billion in debt in March 2016.

At its peak, the chain operated more than 450 stores with over 14.500 employees.  

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.