Country Lanes North clears lane for Planet Fitness – Reuters

DULUTH – Family-owned Country Lanes North closed on Tuesday after 46 years of operation. The building, located at 2327 Mountain Shadow Drive, will be demolished in early July. Planet Fitness will be built in its place.

Planet Fitness hopes to begin construction on its brand new 22,300 square foot facility this fall with an expected opening in mid-2023. With 2,291 locations in the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Panama, Mexico and Australia, this will be its first Twin Ports location in the heart of the Duluth retail corridor.

Country Lanes North Thursday in Duluth.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

The fitness chain was founded in 1992 in Hampton, New Hampshire, by brothers Michael and Marc Grondahl. The company is now owned by Chris Rondeau.

Planet Fitness is known for its wide offering of affordable memberships and its 24-hour “judgment-free zone” that caters to professional and casual gym users. According to Planet Fitness, the spelling of “Judgement” (with an ‘e’) was actually a mistake in the early years.

“We considered changing it, but we think it makes us different and really fits our non-judgmental personalities,” Planet Fitness says on its website.

North country lanes
The Duluth Planning Commission granted Planet Fitness a waiver on June 14, allowing 178 parking spaces to ease traffic in the parking lot.

Contributed / Legistar

The Duluth facility would feature his prototypical design, which includes a variety of fitness equipment such as treadmills, elliptical machines, bicycles, indoor cycling, treadmills, rowing machines and more. The new facility would also include specialist equipment in designated rooms as well as member access to small class classes and trainers, with on-site changing rooms.

During peak hours, Planet Fitness anticipates heavy use of the parking lot. To ease traffic in the parking lot, keep local roads clear of traffic, and ensure guests do not park in adjacent property parking lots, approval for additional spaces has been sought.

The Duluth Planning Commission granted Planet Fitness a waiver on June 14 allowing 178 parking spaces, or 200% of the 89-134 maximum typically allowed for a building its size.

The project will represent an investment of $7-8 million, according to Todd Reyling of Planet Fitness Baseline Fitness, who spoke at the meeting. The company will also have to store and treat stormwater on site.

Workers using power tools to disassemble bowling alleys and equipment
Country Lanes North owner Scott Carlson of Hermantown dismantles part of a pin machine Thursday in Duluth. Carlson was 16 when his father started bowling and has been with the business ever since.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Farewell to the community

Like many other businesses, Country Lanes North has taken an economic hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, owner Scott Carlson said. When the opportunity to sell the business presented itself, the 62-year-old said he took advantage of it. He plans to take a few months off and will eventually find another job.

It is unclear if Country Lanes North plans to move to a new location in the area.

Scott’s father, Robert A. Carlson, built the bowling alley in 1976. Scott and his brother, Dale Carlson, had worked there since they were teenagers. Dale left 15 years ago to start his own business.

Workers using power tools to disassemble bowling alleys and equipment
Bowling equipment was staged for removal at Country Lanes North on Thursday in Duluth. The business is closed and should be demolished in a few weeks to make way for a Planet Fitness.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

“To all of our loyal customers, it is with mixed emotions that I tell everyone that it looks like our 46-year-old family bowling center will be sold,” Scott Carlson wrote on the

Country Lanes North Facebook Page

. “Thank you for allowing me to live my dream job for 46 years.”

Bowlers have until July 1 to remove equipment from lockers. Volleyball and bean bag teams can get refunds. The Tuesday Jersey league can also win cash prizes.

Country Lanes North held a celebration on Tuesday where customers enjoyed free bowling and pizza and shared fond memories.

“It was so fun to hear all the stories of how it touched so many lives. The engagement, a lot of people met their spouses here. It was amazing. It was nice to hear how it went. impacted everyone’s life in a positive way,” says Scott.

“I’ll be there when they put the wrecking ball there,” he said. “It’s going to be hard.”

Workers using power tools to disassemble bowling alleys and equipment
A warning sticker written in Japanese seen on a pin machine at Country Lanes North on Thursday in Duluth. The AMF-branded machines were built in the United States and then shipped to Japan for use in bowling centers. The Carlson family purchased them as surplus and they were shipped back to Duluth to be used in their bowling alley. According to owner Scott Carlson, the labels translate to “You must turn off the power before entering the machine.”

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Workers using power tools to disassemble bowling alleys and equipment
Fredenburg Township’s Jim Slocum uses an impact driver to remove screws from the synthetic lane surface at Country Lanes North Thursday in Duluth. Slocum has been playing aisles since 1979 and has at least seven perfect games.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Workers using power tools to disassemble bowling alleys and equipment
Bowling equipment and chairs are staged for transport to Country Lanes North Thursday in Duluth.

Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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