STONINGTON — The Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday approved a change-in-use application that will turn the former Stop & Shop storefront on Route 1 in Pawcatuck into a fitness center.
The new facility, to be called Renegade Fitness Center, will need a zoning certificate from the planning office before it can open, Town Planner Keith Brynes told the commission. There was no public hearing.
Plans for Renegade Fitness include hours of 4:30 a.m to 11 p.m., and areas for cardio workout machines, weight lifting, sauna, massage and tanning.
There are also plans for a juice bar that would sell snacks and sandwiches. No site changes are planned.
The former Stop & Shop, the anchor store in Pawcatuck Shopping Plaza, has been vacant since the grocery store chain opened a Super Stop & Shop five years ago off Voluntown Road.
William Kane, founder and CEO of Fitness and Nutrition Inc., sought commission approval for the change in use from retail to personal services in order to proceed with the project. He is the owner of Renegade Sports Center and Velocity Sports Performance, both in Waterford, as well as Work Out World franchises in Groton, Waterford, Norwich and New London.
After Stop & Shop abandoned the building on Route 1, the grocery corporation maintained its lease, and even exercised an option to renew the lease for another five years at one point, in an effort to deter competition. The move depressed customer traffic for other businesses in the shopping area and irritated residents, some of whom pressed for a more upscale grocery store.
First Selectman Edward Haberek Jr. had criticized the leasing arrangement as a “predatory” practice in 2010. Haberek praised the new business as an “exciting addition to the town” and said he had been happy to work with Kane to revive the vacant location.