Michael Boerner, along with partners Sean Cupit, Jamie Wier and Jack Allin hope to enhance the aesthetic of the neighborhood with their locally owned and run project. Rendering: Wier Boerner Allin Architecture

The Rainbow Co-Op building has a new owner, a group of local investors who, as property owners, residents and local business owners, say they have Fondren’s best interests in mind.

Michael Boerner, Sean Cupit, Jamie Wier and Jack Allin will reinvent the space as Fondren Fitness.

“It all happened quickly,” Boerner said when speaking of how the deal fell into place. Not only do the partners of Fondren Fitness have the neighborhood’s best interest at heart, but Rainbow Co-Op (who closed in July 2018) does as well. “They have been extremely easy to work with and have greatly supported our vision for the space.”

“I was walking by on my daily stroll through Fondren and saw people outside measuring the buildings exterior. This led me to make a few calls to some local business owners. When I learned the Rainbow space might become a national brand that didn’t particularly fit in Fondren, I thought it was important to protect the space for the sake of the neighborhood.

Boerner’s call to his architect partners Jack Allin and Jamie Wier, elicited the idea for a fullservice gym, but not just any gym. That’s when they brought in business partner Sean Cupit, who has wide-ranging experience in the fitness industry.

We want to do it right, so we’ve been researching gyms across the country. It’ll be a dynamic space with state-of-the-art equipment and classes for all levels.”

What may be most exciting for the neighborhood will be the change in aesthetic that the group will use to dress up the building, reimagining the dated façade of corrugated tin.

“It’s going to be an energizing building with lasting impact on that Lakeland intersection,” Boerner said. Image is extremely important for something like a fitness center.

To draw the eye in, a second-story deck will run along the front. When yourun on a treadmill, you’re looking at Lakeland. When you are driving up, you’ll see what Boerner called “a building full of life and activity.

Boerner said that, for years, the center – which is also home to Cups, Fondren Public, Hops & Habanas and Montgomery Ace Hardware – has hoped to repave and relight its parking lot.

We hope to work together with the shopping center to pave all the parking and work on the lights. It will be a significant difference in the property as a whole and Fondren. It’s the first thing you see from Lakeland at Old Canton, so we want it to look fresh and new.

One concern for the building that Rainbow always dealt with was flooding. Boerner says they won’t overlook that problem.

We will address all necessary issues with the current building during the renovation phase,” he explained, adding, “We’re not going to cut corners. It will be done right.

Fondren Fitness will cater to local residents, students, medical professionals and others, offering hours that fit their busy schedules and discounts to make memberships appealing. Plans for a smoothie shop in the building that’s open to the public and Fondren Fitness patrons is also in the works.

We feel that bringing a fitness center to the heart of Fondren will not only continue the growth of the area but also promote the health of the neighborhood.

Twenty-five-year shopping center veteran Janice Cameron, owner of Cups, expressed her excitement to the news.

“I’m always excited to see new growth,” she said. “It means more jobs and in a safe environment.”

Jim Wilkirson, Executive Director of Fondren Renaissance, said he is pleased with the new owners’ commitments to the neighborhood.

“They understand the importance, standards, and needs of the current local area,” Wilkirson said. “We appreciate all that they have already done to facilitate the betterment of the neighborhood and look forward to their working with the adjacent landowners for a more cohesive shopping center. Additionally, we feel as though the proposed use of the property is in keeping with the current area businesses and trade while meeting a need.”

After obtaining a special-use permit (the property is currently C-2 which does not allow for fitness center), the gym could open as soon as spring 2019.