A long empty big-box store in London has been converted into an activity centre for sports, arts & academics.
The ‘Activity Plex’ is located in the former RONA store at Commissioners and Highbury avenue.
Five new and relocated businesses have opened over the past few weeks, including two martial arts centres, a gym, a dance studio and a music studio.
Coming soon, a computer school, daycare, swimming pool and a play town.
Aron Polmateer, of KNS Martial Arts, was among the first to open three weeks ago. He moved his business from east London.
“We really wanted to be a part of it.”
The Greater Toronto Area, based creators of the Activity Plex have poured $20-million into buying and renovating the building.
London’s, the largest, is the third one they’ve built in Ontario.
Owner Adam Jacobson maintains the pandemic has not slowed down leasing in London, with over 70 per cent of spaces full.
“To be honest before the pandemic, this building was only going to be about 50,000 sq ft. And even before the pandemic happened we decided to expand it to the entire building, because of how leasing is going.”
Ashley Aarts moved her ‘Dance London’ business from Old South to the Activity Plex two weeks ago.
She’s believes the timing is right as people are ready to move again, while meeting the guidelines of COVID-19 safety protocols.
“There are families out there that are ready to get their kids back into some sort of normalcy. And you know what, it has been really beautiful to see how these kids have adapted to strict protocols."
And even with the protocols, many operators contend, they’ve benefited from being in one spot together.
“Anybody with children knows, if you have to drop off one child at one activity, and then have to rush to another activity it can be really frustrating”, Polmateer tells CTV News.
Aarts says that reality is at the core of what attracted her to move her business here.
“This way you have kids coming to other activities, or parents coming to work out themselves, and say “hey” I’d like to sign my child up for dance class."
Along with the Activity Plex, the owners bought the entire mini-mall in front of the building. More stores here are said to be coming shortly, as a construction boom continues in the Summerside neighbourhood it is located in.