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Rye Ridge Plaza Gets Fit

Rye Ridge plaza gets fit for its customers
Tenants offer exercise, health food, sportswear

Written by Leah Rae for LoHud.com/The Journal News

RYE BROOK — Your typical suburban shopping plaza caters to a drive-through, fries-with-that, sedentary sort.

Then there’s Rye Ridge Shopping Center, land of coconut water, toned abs and several different lines of designer yoga pants.

(Shopping plaza has healthy obsession: Rye Ridge Shopping Plaza adds workout spots for pilates, cycling and treadmill. Video by Leah Rae/The Journal News)

The sprawling plaza off South Ridge Street and Bowman Avenue has evolved into a remarkably health-oriented hub, anchored by D’Agostino’s supermarket and filled with a surprising assortment of retail. The line out the door at salad place Chop’t might be your first tip-off, or the high-end boutique Lv2bfit, selling fashionable athletic wear.

Soon to open are SLT (Strengthen, Lengthen, Tone), offering Pilates-based workouts, and Soul Cycle, for spin class with a high-tech, introspective style. The newest lease is with Ripped, a flagship venture that will offer treadmill-based classes.

The theme evolved over several years, said Erin Hinchey, leasing agent for the plaza. The workout franchises are using Rye Ridge as their entry into Westchester County, she said. For plaza owner Win Ridge Realty, the convergence is a direct response to its core demographic.

“They’ve got on Lululemon pants,” Hinchey said, describing the women who criss-cross the parking lot daily. “Our shopper is health-conscious, obviously — likes to work out, likes healthy food. We always gear our tenant mix towards what our shoppers want. So we wouldn’t necessarily bring in a KFC.”

Chipotle and Buddha Asian Bistro are among the restaurant chains to open in recent years.

All of this toning and stretching and healthy eating surrounds the growing Blum Center for Health, which combines a medical practice with organic takeout food, cooking and wellness instruction and mind-body-spirit classes.

The shopping center opened in the 1960s and has expanded in phases, becoming a de facto downtown for Rye Brook. It includes a Starbucks, sit-down deli and pizzeria and about 70 boutiques.

Mel Siegel has sold sports clothing and footwear at the plaza for 22 years. The wellness trend struck him this week as he passed by a sign for the Pilates place, where Curves used to be. (“If cardio, strength training, and Pilates had a baby,” the chain says on its website, “it would be SLT.”)

“It’s amazing how much is going on at this center in terms of physical fitness,” he said. Siegel sees the trend as mirroring his own business venture, the independent Sportech store. It opened in 1990, anticipating a growing fitness culture and a surge in girls sports.

In the past 10 years Siegel has seen a growing interest in healthier living overall, and in cross-training through multiple sports or workouts. He doesn’t mind what could be seen as competition nearby.

“Anything that encourages people to work out, I see (Sportech) as supplementing what they do,” Siegel said.

With just a few vacancies, the center turns down more prospective tenants than it accepts, Hinchey said. The plaza isn’t looking for another food tenant, she said, but perhaps a new yoga place.