Essentia Health Purchases Younkers for Fitness Center

Downtown Fitness Center moving to Mall

DULUTH, Minn.- Essentia Health is investing $15 million in the purchase and remodeling of the 145,000 square foot Younkers space at Miller Hill Mall, to make it the new location of their Fitness and Therapy Center.

The Fitness Center at Younkers would take up about 34,000 square feet, about 12,000 square feet larger than the current downtown location.

This makes room for new equipment, exam rooms, and bigger locker rooms.

“The staff will all come out to the new facility, so the staff they’re used to working with,” said Mark Hayward, Senior Vice President of Operations.

“We’re really investing a lot of money in this facility, and other facilities, to really help support  vibrant healthy communities and people living a healthy lifestyle, that leads to good health over time.”

Relocation is set for Fall, to not disturb any patient services. Essentia said they hope for a seamless transition.

People who aren’t patients who want to workout, will notice a $10 increase in the monthly cost to use the new location, from $35 to $45.

But Essentia Health said that’ll balance out with the Mall’s free parking.

“If members or partners who use the Fitness Centers, if they get a discount now from their health plan for a certain number of uses, those will all continue, they’ll still continue to get those,” Hayward said.

“Many of the members have to pay for parking now when they come, in they pay for parking, so they’ll have free parking and that’s an offset to those cuts.”

Hayward also adds that if therapy patients have trouble getting to the Mall once the Fitness Center opens, that Essentia is willing to explore creating more transportation options.

Some neighbors near the current downtown location did not agree with the move.

The hospital said with the expansion of the downtown campus with their Vision Northland project, they had no choice but to relocate the fitness center.

Meanwhile, a smaller fitness center for Essentia employees will remain downtown.

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