LA Fitness in Towson Commons

LA Fitness will open a new health club in the old movie theater space at Towson Commons. (Rendering courtesy of Baltimore County, Rendering from Baltimore County / March 28, 2013)

Since Towson City Center opened as a bustling center of business and education last summer, Towson leaders have focused their attention on filling the vacancies at Towson Commons.

On Friday, the results of those efforts finally became public. Baltimore County announced the national health club chain LA Fitness will take over 52,700 square feet as the new tenant in the old movie theater space at Towson Commons.

"It's truly Towson's time," County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in a statement. "We are thrilled that LA Fitness is bringing new energy back to Towson Commons. This is a great location in the heart of downtown Towson, convenient for workers, students and residents."

According to the announcement, the facility will feature a stadium-style spin area, basketball and racquetball courts, an indoor heated lap pool, a whirlpool spa, saunas, and a babysitting area. LA Fitness will also offer yoga, cycling, mat Pilates, cardio kickboxing, and aqua aerobics group classes.

In addition, some aesthetic changes will be made to Towson Commons to include windows and allow for more natural light.

The release did not specify when the business would open, though construction has begun inside the building.

Towson Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Hafford spent 17 years working in the health and fitness industry. She said the new location was "no comparison" to the former LA Fitness location in Towson Circle, which closed earlier this year.

"LA Fitness has a good history of having big, beautiful gyms with good equipment," she said. "To have a place like that in the heart of Towson where thousands of people can just walk to and be at a fitness facility, it's wonderful for us. And it's wonderful for Towson Commons."

A pair of bills introduced by Councilman David Marks, who represents the 5th District including Towson, paved the way for the fitness center.

At Monday's County Council meeting, Marks will introduce a bill that allows the business to have expanded signage.

County code prohibits businesses without direct entrances from the street from posting signage on buildings, and the LA Fitness entrance will be inside the rotunda of Towson Commons, Marks said. The legislation will allow LA Fitness to post "blade signage," which Marks said looks like a banner, on the exterior of the building. The signs would be high enough that they would not distract drivers, Marks said.

Marks said that the two aspects of the signage bill only apply to Towson Commons.

In January, the council passed a bill that altered the county parking codes for fitness centers in downtown Towson. Before the legislation was passed, county code required 10 off-street parking spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor space at athletic clubs, though just three spaces for tennis and racquetball courts.

Marks' legislation amended the code to require three off-street spaces per 1,000 square feet of floor space for athletic clubs located in downtown Towson. The bill also allows the fitness center to use the parking spaces allocated to the old movie theater.

"Towson Commons is the geographic center of downtown Towson," Marks said in a statement. "This announcement not only redevelops a critical area of the commercial core, but it also means that revitalization is spreading to every part of downtown Towson."