Former Creekside restaurant space sells 

Whistler local to open Altitude Gym & Fitness club in Doc Branigan's location this fall

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - WORKING OUT Former restaurant Doc Branigan's will be a gym from this fall.
  • File Photo
  • WORKING OUT Former restaurant Doc Branigan's will be a gym from this fall.

The Gateway Building, a large Creekside retail space that has been vacant for years, will soon be home to "a unique fitness facility" set to open in the fall.

Whistler resident Katie McFetridge, 34, purchased the space on the corner of Lake Placid Road and Highway 99 with plans to open Altitude Gym & Health Club. The goal is to provide "a unique and personal experience to get more people participating in indoor fitness," according to a release from CNL Lifestyle Properties, the Florida-based company with an 80-per-cent stake in Creekside Village.

"I'm really excited to be the one to bring a business to that space that I think will bring a lot of life to the area," McFetridge said.

The facility, which includes 539 square metres (5,800 square feet) of space spread across two floors, will offer group and personal training, fitness classes and massage services. McFetridge also has plans to incorporate radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology for a more "personalized" fitness experience.

"You'll use your RFID to come into the building, access your locker and sign into your cardio machine. When you go to do your workout on the treadmill, it's going to recognize who you are, you can set your goals, and it will log into your Netflix for you, so everything is a little more integrated," McFetridge said.

Peter Morris, consultant for the Florida-based CNL Properties, said the concept for the gym aligns with the developer's rejuvenation plans for Creekside.

"From the very beginning we said one of the things we wanted to do with Creekside Village is offer something that is different and you wouldn't find on every street corner. So the equipment they're bringing in, the use of the RFID in the equipment and all of the services they're going to be providing in this facility are a great fit for our overall merchandising plan," he said. "It also hits our target of presenting something both for locals and also for visitors to Whistler."

CNL Properties unveiled its revitalization plan last year that would position Creekside as an alternative to the Village by seeking tenants that are "unique and/or quintessentially Canadian." The makeover has attracted several new tenants, most recently Pure Integrative Pharmacy and bike and ski shop Coastal Culture.

Morris told Pique last week that five of the 21 lease spaces CNL owns are still up for grabs, and that talks are ongoing with at least a dozen potential tenants. He said CNL is looking for "interesting food and retail uses" to fill the remaining vacancies.

The Gateway Building has proved a struggle for new businesses attempting to gain a foothold, cycling through several restaurant concepts over the past few years: Morgan's, Players Chophouse and most recently the short-lived Doc Branigan's, which closed in 2012. In 2013, it was sold to an Asian investor for $1.6 million as part of a court-ordered foreclosure, although it was never occupied.

McFetridge is confident a fitness club is the right fit for the sprawling space.

"The thing about having a restaurant in that space is that it's massive. It's a really big building. Despite the density of hotels in the Creekside area, I think it really requires a lot of foot traffic for a restaurant to survive in there," she said. "A gym is a destination business. It's not reliant on people passing by; people will drive and bus to the gym."

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