A rendering of the planned Folsom Wellness Center at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. The hospital needs two zoning changes to build it.

The Folsom Fitness Center at Methodist Dallas Medical Center is like a very fancy corporate gym.

New equipment, soft flooring, wall-to-ceiling windows that bring in the beauty of that tree-filled corner of the hospital’s campus.

It’s nice. 

But for a flagship hospital that is the largest employer in southern Dallas, the 1984-built fitness center is small potatoes.

The hospital’s leadership envisions something a little more like the Baylor Tom Landry Fitness Center in Old East Dallas, which has aquatics, racquetball, kettle bell, pilates, triathlon training, sports-performance programs, youth summer camps and on and on.

Methodist is planning a 35,000-square-foot fitness center just northeast of the Folsom’s current location.

To build it, they need two zoning changes, and so far neighbors are split on whether to support the plan.

Two things currently prohibit the proposal:

A personal-use business is not allowed within 200 feet of Greenbriar Lane.

And no new buildings are allowed under the current zoning in the area surrounding the current fitness center.

When the case headed to City Plan Commission last year, 30 nearby neighbors and 10 businesses responded in favor, and 45 neighbors were against.

The center will create traffic, parking woes and perhaps worst of all, neighbors say, it requires cutting down trees in a neighborhood noted for its beautiful old-growth canopy.

Originally, the plan called for cutting down 27 trees totaling 717 caliper inches. But after negotiating with neighbors, the hospital came up with a new plan that would remove only 11 — one hackberry and 10 pecan trees — totaling 295 caliper inches. To mitigate the loss, they will plant 53 new trees totaling 380 caliper inches.

The hospital also agreed to downzone to the currently vacant land adjacent, at Beckley and Greenbriar. That’s currently a surface parking lot where zoning allows nine stories to be built. As part of the deal, the hospital would change that to allow no more than two stories fronting Greenbriar. Beyond the 125-foot setback from the residential street, they could still build up to nine stories along Beckley.

The City Plan Commission approved the plan last year, and City Council is expected to vote on the proposed zoning changes Jan. 9. 

Work out here

Fitness options abound in Oak Cliff

When ClaireVista and Anytime Fitness opened over a decade ago, our neighborhood finally gained choices in where to sweat it out.

Beyond the fitness center at Methodist hospital, City of Dallas recreation centers and a few boxing gyms, there wasn’t much else.

Then came a (now-defunct) yoga studio, a couple of Planet Fitness franchises, and soon after, that marker of a hip neighborhood that’s no longer esoteric, a smattering of personal- and cross-training gyms.

Now the fitness game is really on.

A pilates studio opened on West Davis in October.

Dana Jones opened Duro Pilates because she needed a place in the neighborhood to practice the discipline.

Jones and her family live on the second story of the old Cannon’s Village shopping center on West Davis at Edgefield.

“Since we own that building, and we had a tenant moving out, I thought I’d just do it myself,” she says. “I want it to be a place for neighbors to come and do pilates without going outside the neighborhood.”

Besides that, our neighborhood also is getting a mega gym.

LA Fitness signed onto the new plan for Wynnewood Village and will build a 34,000-square-foot center on Illinois Avenue. An LA Fitness of similar size opened in Delaware last year, boasting indoor swimming pool, full-court basketball gym, racquetball courts, a whirlpool spa and strength and exercise classes such as boot camp conditioning, cycling, kick-box cardio, Pilates and yoga.

Construction could begin this year.