December 05, 2023
The former Macy's at the Neshaminy Mall will be soon be transformed into a gym and sports facility with a golf course, boxing rings, pickleball courts, basketball courts and a swimming pool.
Fusion Gyms, an expanding brand with locations in Northeast Philly and Fairless Hills, is expected to sign a lease to redevelop the 200,000-square-foot property in Bensalem.
Plans for the gym include two full-sized indoor basketball courts and two outdoor courts that will be available to rent. There also will be a pair of soccer fields, 20 indoor pickleball courts, golf simulators and a 30,000-square-foot golf course with a design similar to Skramble House of Golf, which has locations in Horsham and King of Prussia. The indoor gym will cover 75,000 square feet.
The Fusion Gyms chain is led by West Philly-native Tony Chowdhury, a former personal trainer who opened his first gyms in New Britain and Runnemede, New Jersey in 2015. Chowdhury also owns a strength equipment manufacturing company called Relentless.
Chowdhury had been leasing smaller spaces in other locations with the goal of eventually opening his biggest location in Bensalem. His Northeast Philly gym opened on Grant Avenue about six years ago, and the 75,000-square-foot Fairless Hills facility opened earlier this year. Chowdhury said another Fusion Gym is on track to open this winter in South Philly on Oregon Ave.
With many big box retail locations now sitting empty, property owners and townships are looking for ways to put these spaces back to use, which creates opportunities for entrepreneurs to try new concepts.
"A lot of these malls, it's kind of sad. They're getting torn down and they're being replaced with residential units," Chowdhury said Tuesday. "I think even if they decide to do residential units at certain properties, a gym like ours could be a great staple within that."
Chowdhury said Fusion Gyms aims to strike a balance between upscale and affordable, with monthly memberships at current locations priced at $69.
Like the Fusion Gym in Fairless Hills, the one in Bensalem will have a Fusion Fresh restaurant with healthy foods like wraps, bowls and salads.
Chowdhury anticipates that the Bensalem gym will take about 14-18 months to complete. He said the township has been supportive.
"Bensalem is very business-friendly. We already had a meeting with the township," Chowdhury said. "We showed the mayor what we want to bring to the town and my vision of what we want to create. They are giving us their full support and they want us there."
The Neshaminy Mall has struggled in recent years to compete with the nearby Oxford Valley Mall and Philadelphia Mills, and the growth of online shopping has hampered brick-and-mortar stores.
In January, the Bucks County Courier Times reported the assessed property value of the Neshaminy Mall had dropped by 42% since 2020, falling to $3.6 million. More than a dozen of the mall's retail spaces are empty. The mall is anchored by a 24-screen AMC movie theater, Boscov's and Barnes & Noble. It opened in 1968 and was most recently renovated in 2015. The mall's Macy's closed in 2017.
Chowdhury hopes to open more Fusion Gym locations in the years to come.
"We're focused on our backyard right now — the city market, the suburbs of Philly, New Jersey," Chowdhury said. "I feel like we have plenty of grounds to play with and also there's malls in the entire tri-state area that could be revitalized just like this."