(Memphis) A French Riviera Spa location in Hickory Hill will close on July 31st, prompting hundreds of members to sign a petition with less than a month’s notice.
People who have been using the facility for 20 years are concerned the building will become yet another abandoned business in the Hickory Hill area.
“I’m about to cry, because they service a lot of older people with a lot of health issues. And we get in the pool. And we’re like one big family,” said Peggy Bland-Seltzer.
Bland-Seltzer has been coming to this location for 16 years. She takes water aerobics classes.
But French Riviera Spa is moving away from having so-called “wet areas” with swimming pools and saunas.
The only other location with a wet area is in Raleigh. That Raleigh gym will relocate to a different building and lose its wet area.
Sam Sudduth, the owner of the Hickory Hill location, said, “The last thing FRS wants to do is close one of their locations, because it does affect so many people, the members, the staff and the community. The corporate office had struggles with this decision for the past several years, and it just came down to basic economics. This location had been declining even after FRS had pumped many of thousands of dollars back into the facility. We are taking care of all our members. The members can use any of the other 5 locations and if this will not work for them FRS has told the members that they can cancel their membership.”
He said that membership has dropped by about 20 to 25 percent since 2008, though members say they still have more than 85 people show up every Monday for Zumba class.
The closest locations are about 10 or 15 miles away.
“There is a 24 Hour Fitness, but I don’t think everybody feels that comfortable, based on the fact – with their track record with legionnaire’s disease,” said Bland-Seltzer.
Juanita Bailey said she can go to the location on Union Avenue. But the friends she’s made here for the last 16 years are her support group.
“It’s almost like we’re losing a family member, or losing a best friend…our place where we encourage people to work out. Hey, you’re doing a good job, keep up the good work,” Bailey said.
She and Bland-Seltzer are both concerned about the future of the Hickory Hill area.
“For them to close this gym, it’s just going to be an empty space,” Bailey said.
There used to be a Target and TGIF restaurant near the intersection, just two of the several businesses that have been abandoned.
“That’s devastating, because when you start to close places that people come to, you have an increase in crime,” Bland-Seltzer said.
While the decision seems out of the hands of local managers, the members of the Hickory Hill location continue to sign a petition, hoping to stop a closure already in motion.