The long-shuttered Macy's store at the Neshaminy Mall will be transformed into an indoor-outdoor state-of-the-art gym and entertainment center with restaurant, boxing rings, pool and nine-hole golf course.
Tony Chowdhury, owner of Fusion Gym, said the Bensalem property will be the location of his fourth Fusion facility — his second in Bucks County — as he works to take the brand national, bringing a unique blend of smaller businesses within a traditional gym.
The concept also continues a national trend where traditional retail spaces at malls are being redeveloped as entertainment spaces as fewer shoppers look to brick-and-mortar stores for their needs. Former mall space is increasing being turned into mixed-use space with housing, entertainment and retail.
The Macy's moved out of Neshaminy in 2017, and the parcel was sold off by the mall the next year, but has sat bordered up and undeveloped since.
Macy's no more Neshaminy Mall’s closed Macy’s is sold
"It's gonna give it a big shot in the arm" Chowdhury said of his plan for the over 200,000-square-foot former at the mall, which like so many other aging mega-retail centers, has fallen on hard times.
The developer plans a gym with outdoor space, a 9-hole golf course, 20 pickle ball courts, Vegas-style swimming pool and restaurant, among other features. Fusion is a unique combination of traditional weightlifting fitness center with luxury appointments that he said is a “lifter’s paradise.”
Chowdhury, 34, said he is finalizing the lease, and eventually will purchase the vacant department store.
The economics are on Chowdhury's side, he said.
With online shopping making it largely unnecessary for consumers to make purchases at legacy brick and mortar chain stores like Macy's, big box spaces are available cheap to be repurposed by enterprising self-starters.
"I believe if you can find problems in the world, and you can create a solution, you can make a lot of money," he said.
Big box retail stores sit empty, and landlords are eager to make a deal. That's what happened with Choudhury's gym at 179 Lincoln Highway in Fairless Hills, the site of another shuttered retailer, Mealey's Furniture Outlet.
"The reason we chose (the Fairless Hills) location is because it was big enough (75,000 square feet), no one wanted it, we were able to get it dirt cheap, and we had enough runway to be able to raise the capital because we have almost two years of free rent to sell investors," he said.
Chowdhury said the paperwork for the lease and eventual purchase of the Macy's property from SANT Properties of Huntington Valley, which purchased the building in 2020, is almost complete.. A call to SANT was not immediately returned on Monday.
Bensalem Mayor Joseph DiGirolamo said he's impressed with how Choudhury has recreated the ordinary gym experience.
"He has a barber shop in it," he said. "It could be the spark that the mall needs."
Chowdhury said he wants Fusion to be high-end, but affordable. A monthly membership to his Fairless Hill shop is $69, with no initiation fees or contract.
He said the Macy's location will open within nine months to a year.
JD Mullane can be reached at 215-949-5745 or at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Bucks County Courier Times: Macy's at Neshaminy Mall redeveloped as gym, entertainment complex