New owners of the closed LA Fitness, 520 Washington Ave. S. in Kent, plan to open a banquet hall and eventually build apartments on the site. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

New owners of the closed LA Fitness, 520 Washington Ave. S. in Kent, plan to open a banquet hall and eventually build apartments on the site. STEVE HUNTER, Kent Reporter

Kent’s copper-colored building near Highway 167 to become banquet hall

Facility on Washington Avenue South previously housed LA Fitness; newspaper printing plant

Big changes are ahead for the large, copper-colored building in Kent just off of Highway 167 and Willis Street.

The facility most recently housed LA Fitness and previously served as a newspaper printing plant.

The new owners of the property, 520 Washington Ave. S., say they plan to open a large, high-end banquet hall in the current structure and later add a 200-unit, mixed-use apartment complex on the south end of the 4-acre site where a parking lot now sits. There also are plans for an Indian restaurant.

LA Fitness closed its 55,793 square-foot health club in February after its lease expired and Renton-based Washington ST 520 LLC bought the property from San Diego-based Realty Income Corporation for $6.67 million, according to King County property records. The deal closed on March 22.

“We’re looking to build a banquet hall,” said Sabir Kahn, the registered agent for Washington ST 520, during an April 15 phone interview. “It’ll be very high end. And it’s right at Highway 167 and near I-5.”

Kahn said his group will meet with city of Kent planning department officials in a couple of weeks to determine which permits will be needed.

“We hope to begin in six to 12 months,” Kahn said about an estimated $1.5 million renovation to convert a portion of the health club to a banquet hall. “We hope to be open in about 24 months.”

The proposed apartments will be built at a later date.

Washington ST 520 will work with Tukwila-based Ronhovde Architects on the project. Kahn said that firm has designed other banquet halls.

Kahn said he has been a real estate developer for about 30 years, including several smaller housing projects in Kent. Other recent purchases include a gas station in SeaTac and a truck stop in Winlock, about 45 miles south of Olympia.

Owner Jessie Bhullar met on site with the Kent Reporter on Tuesday, April 16, and shared his excitement about the banquet hall.

“It’s going to be very professional and fancy,” he said. “We will host all kind of functions from conferences to an event show.”

It could be booked for a wedding, birthday party, retirement party and other options the community wants. Bhullar said valet parking will be featured at the main entrance on the south side of the building.

Bhullar said the property will be fenced off and feature two gated, secured entrances. He has had to hire security to watch the building after someone busted out doors and windows to enter the facility and caused thousands of dollars of damage inside and outside. The windows and doors are now boarded up for protection.

Bhullar said the swimming pool and locker rooms will remain and eventually be open to residents of the new apartments.

The banquet hall will be able to hold up to about 1,000 people and be sectioned off for smaller gatherings. Plans also call for a VIP section in the hall. The gym and other sections will be turned into a children’s play area for events when people want to bring their children.

He also wants to add an Indian restaurant that will feature catering.

Facility history

LA Fitness opened in 2009 when it converted the King County Journal newspaper printing plant into a health club with a swimming pool, gym, racquetball courts, weights and workout equipment. Newspaper owner Peter Horvitz constructed the building in 2002 to house a new printing press.

Canadian-based Black Press, aka Sound Publishing, bought the facility for $9 million in 2006 and then sold it for $9.35 million in 2007 to a group connected with Mercer Island-based Benaroya Co., which in 2009 sold the property for $11.67 million to Realty Income Corporation, according to King County property records.

Sound Publishing, closed the daily paper in 2007 and published weeklies in many suburbs, many of which are still around, including the Kent Reporter. Black Press recently sold the chain to Carpenter Media Group, which publishes papers in several southern states.

Realty Income Corporation owns and leases buildings across the nation, including numerous health clubs. The NNN Fitness Group of Marcus & Millichap is the broker that handled the LA Fitness in Kent deal. Brokers for NNN Fitness Group did not return emails from the Kent Reporter about the sale and the end of the LA Fitness lease. The company also is trying to sell a former LA Fitness at Redondo in Federal Way, which closed in 2023 and sits near the Des Moines and Kent city borders.

LA Fitness continues to operate one remaining club in Kent and one remaining gym in Federal Way.

Khan said buying the property and facility for $6.67 million turned out to be a much better deal than the potential purchase his group looked at of the nearby Madison Plaza Apartments that late last year went through a foreclosure sale.

Khan said he’s aware that commercial property prices have dropped, including the LA Fitness site that sold for $11.67 million in 2009. But he’s confident the good location of the facility and the money in King County will help the banquet hall and apartment complex succeed.

“There’s growth in King County no matter how you slice or dice it,” Khan said.

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