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February 17, 1989|Michael Flagg, Times staff writer

Fitness centers aren't very popular with some lenders right now, as Benco Development Group in Long Beach has learned. The developer says it looked for financing for more than a year for its Dixieland Plaza--a 52,000-square-foot strip shopping center on East Chapman Avenue near Prospect Street in Orange--all because the center includes a health club.

Benco was pleased when it signed up a Family Fitness Center to anchor the small center, but "unfortunately the lending industry didn't necessarily share our view," said Benco President Frank Bennett. "Even though Family Fitness has been in business for 15 years, other health clubs seem to come and go, and Family Fitness was grouped together with all the others."

Finally Wellington Mortgage Capital stepped in. The Century City concern has a lot of experience in financing health clubs, and it agreed to finance the project. Construction finally began late last month.

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