New fitness center coming to former Ultra Foods in Wheaton

A Colorado chain of fitness centers is flexing its muscles with a push into the Chicago area workout business.

VASA Fitness plans to open a health club in a long-vacant Wheaton grocery store. The new gym is slated to take over a 65,000-square-foot space formerly occupied by Ultra Foods in the shopping center anchored by Target and Kohl's at County Farm and Roosevelt roads.

Suburban shopping center landlords are increasingly turning to fitness centers and other health-focused businesses to fill big retail vacancies and draw customers.

VASA Fitness also is eyeing a 50,000-square-foot facility in a Northbrook strip mall as part of an expansion into Illinois. Full-service VASA clubs have group classes, high-intensity interval training - better known as HIIT - yoga, a spin studio, free weights, a basketball court and a pool.

In Glendale Heights, a new VASA Fitness gym is set to host an opening celebration near another Target store on Saturday, July 29. The company will remodel the entire space in Wheaton and pave the parking lot, City Manager Mike Dzugan said.

"It'll be nice that we'll have some liveliness coming back into that shopping center," city council member Lynn Robbins said.

The Wheaton gym will have all of VASA's amenities, a company spokesperson said. Fitness buffs will find personal training, a spa, steam, sauna, massage lounge and child care. VASA Wheaton is slated to open in "winter 2023/2024," the spokesperson said via email.

Joliet-based Central Grocers, the parent company of Ultra Foods, announced it was closing the Wheaton store and other locations in April 2017 and then filed for bankruptcy about a month later.

GW Properties, a Chicago real estate firm, began lease negotiations to redevelop a 40,000-square-foot portion of the Wheaton store into an LA Fitness soon after purchasing the Ultra Foods building in April 2018.

But GW Properties was unable to consummate lease negotiations with LA Fitness, city officials said. GW Properties subsequently secured a lease with VASA Fitness for the whole building.

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