Planet Fun to become Planet Botox

It's been two years since the fun stopped at Planet Fun on Berkmar Drive, which included video games, an indoor climbing structure, miniature golf, go-carts, and batting cages (we were particularly fond of the shark hunter game), when development company Stonehaus Inc. bought the ailing amusement park for $2.4 million. Since then, Stonehaus has been trying to find a suitable buyer for the Fun building, which has sat mournfully along the side of the road like an unused toy.

Now it appears Planet Fun is going to become Planet Botox, or rather, the Albemarle Dermatology and Signature Medical Spa, an 8,400 square foot luxury treatment center where folks can get expert dermatological care as well as aesthetic treatments, skin care products, and "cosmeceuticals."

The idea is the brainchild of Dr. Bonnie Straka, founder and director of Albemarle Dermatology Associates, which offers highly specialized dermatology treatments and has become the region's largest Botox provider. According to a release, Dr. Straka, who purchased the Planet Fun building from Stonehaus for $1,750,000, imagines a unique blending of architecture and medical and spa resort services.

"Picture a combination of a four-star spa resort with a visit to the doctor," says Straka. "Unlike day spas, a medical spa is a facility under the full-time supervision of a physician. The concept for our medical spa is to create a nurturing, high-end atmosphere to cater to our clientele, so that a visit to the doctor for aesthetic treatments ends up feeling more like a retreat."

For Stonehaus, the spa center appears to be the perfect "anchor" for a planned larger project, a 9.2-acre "pedestrian-friendly" retail/office complex that will surround the old Planet Fun building.

"We've been hoping to get someone like this in the space for some time," says Stonehaus spokesman Cass Kawecki, "someone committed to creating a quality project."

Kawecki says local architect Bruce Wardell, known for a number of church renovations around town as well as the renovations of the Downtown Rec Center and the Market Street Parking Garage, will be designing the project, which is expected to be completed in February 2008.

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