Spa operator moving forward after leasing fiasco

Whitehaven Plaza exit looms; Vincent Gardley weighs options for his French Riviera Spa.

Wiley Henry, | 5/19/2016, 12:35 p.m.
Whitehaven Plaza exit looms; Vincent Gardley weighs options for his French Riviera Spa.
Vincent Gardley works with Willis Harris, a regular at Gardley’s French Riviera Spa in the Whitehaven Plaza shopping center. (Photo: Wiley Henry)

Vincent Gardley is vacillating between moving the French Riviera Spa he operates in the Whitehaven Plaza to the Southgate Shopping Center on Third Street or the Southland Mall Shopping Center on Shelby Drive. He’d rather stay put but that option is not on the table.

Gardley purchased the spa a year and a half ago from a Utah resident who owns 20 French Riviera Spas throughout the Southeast. That purchase did not make Gardley the leaseholder on the Whitehaven Plaza property. After learning of that and moving to explore his options, Gardley found out that the choices available at that point did not include him continuing to run his French Rivera Spa operation from the Whitehaven Plaza Spot.

The bombshell created a predicament for Gardley: He’d increased the spa’s membership considerably within a relatively short time. Now he has to move and risk losing what he’d gained.

Southgate is 5.87 miles north of the spa’s current location and Southland is 1.20 miles south.

“I have two leases on my desk and I’m going to make a decision in a few weeks. So I have some options. I’m trying to decide which way to go,” said Gardley, who learned in April that he has to vacate the building at 4130 Elvis Presley Blvd. by October.

“We’re trying to keep it under $7,500 a month,” said Gardley, hoping the new location will keep the spa’s growing membership in tact as well as draw others. “We need about 9,000 square feet. We would love to have 11 or 12.”

The price has to be right, he said.

Relocating the spa would require transporting several elliptical machines, tread climbers, punching bags, upright cycling bikes, rowing machines, weight benches and other cardio exercise equipment. But Gardley doesn’t see this as a problem – just a setback.

“All we need is space and don’t require a huge build out – offices and stuff like that,” he said. “We can move in 10 days.”

Gardley purchased the spa from Ren Rice, who still is the leaseholder on the property.

“He did buy that business…but the lease that we have, Vincent is not even on it, said Rick Smith, director of property management with Finard Properties, which owns the Whitehaven Plaza. “So our dealings are with our leaseholder.”

A 10-year lease agreement for the spa is on file with Finard. But Smith would not divulge much information about the lease, citing landlord and tenant confidentially. He did say, however, that there are no options after the lease expires in October, meaning the lease will not be renewed.

“So what we did was we reached out to the person on the lease, the company on the lease,” said Smith, “and we told them…that you need to check your lease and its statements and requirements…the end of the term.”

Smith said he’d heard about “the potential sale (of the French Riviera Spa) through the grapevine” and notified Rice to tell him “y’all need to check this before you do anything. At that point, there was nothing more that we could do.”