The new Blink Fitness at 600 Central Ave. in East Orange — Courtesy: Paramount Assets
By Joshua Burd
A real estate investment firm is marking the debut of a 16,400-square-foot health club in East Orange, a major step forward in a plan to reposition the once-vacant commercial property.
The owner, Paramount Assets, has opened the doors to the state’s newest Blink Fitness location after bringing the operator to its property at 600 Central Ave. The national chain is anchoring the retail space at the 50,000-square-foot building, joining a mix of convenience-oriented businesses that are already in place.
Paramount Assets also plans to introduce 30 luxury-style apartments on the building’s second level, the firm said. It will bring its plans to the East Orange Planning Board later this year and anticipates a 2019 construction start.
“Great things are happening in the Central Avenue commercial district,” said Richard Dunn, senior vice president with Paramount Assets. “Our firm has been involved in East Orange for many years, and we are watching with anticipation as this neighborhood experiences more and more redevelopment — much of it geared to introduce luxury rental apartments.
“This new inventory is attracting residents looking to take advantage of what is becoming a trendy, mass-transit-accessible, walkable downtown.”
David Dunkelman, executive vice president of Soloff Retail, represented both parties in the long-term lease. Dunn said his firm had sought to secure a national anchor tenant from the outset of the project, which began with its 2016 purchase of the former office and retail property.
He and other members of the family-owned firm were set to join East Orange Mayor Ted R. Green on Tuesday to mark the opening of the new fitness club.
“The opening of Blink Fitness along this stretch of one of our busiest commercial areas marks a key turning point in the progress of not just Central Avenue, but our Transit Village and our entire city,” Green said in prepared remarks. “We are especially excited for projects like these that creatively breathe new life into our classic and historic spaces.
“We consistently encourage our residents to focus on their well-being and we are proud to welcome Blink Fitness as another option for living a healthier lifestyle.”
Other retailers at 600 Central Ave. include a deli, fabric store, optometry practice and doctor’s office. Dunn, meantime, noted that fitness is an underserved retail category in the neighborhood and said Blink “is among the most active affordable fitness chain brands in the market today.”
“It is recognized for its professional operation, excellent programming and success in high-density, downtown markets,” he said. “In short, it is an ideal match for 600 Central Ave.”
The lease represents Blink Fitness’ fourth commitment within Paramount Assets’ New Jersey portfolio, the firm said. Other locations include a recently opened facility in Perth Amboy, a Newark gym that will launch in March and an Irvington site set for delivery this fall.
“We are excited to open our 67th Blink Fitness location during this exciting time of redevelopment in East Orange,” said Todd Magazine, Blink Fitness president. “Our Mood Above Muscle philosophy will ensure that our location is a healthy and positive addition to the Paramount Assets property and the East Orange community.