On the west bank of the Los Angeles River along Riverside Drive in Los Angeles’ little-known “Frogtown” neighborhood, a 1940’s-era airplane hangar that had been converted and used as a woodworking factory for the past three decades, has been leased by a popular gymnastics and sports training organization that plans to greatly expand its operations there, Colliers International has reported.

The Klub, which has for the past eight years catered to youth gymnasts in a 5,000-square-foot site in nearby Silver Lake, has signed a 10-year lease valued at at more than $5 million that will allow it to occupy the 40,000-square-foot hangar and expand its operations from gymnastics to include a variety of other activities.

“Since the building itself is so large and open, it will allow the operators to expand, eliminating what had been a two-year waiting list for classes,” said Colliers Vice President Greg Tuszynski, who represented The Klub in negotiations. “It also will allow them to realize their goal of expanding beyond gymnastics to include other fitness and community-based activities.”

Located at 1683 Blake Ave., the massive structure backs onto the Los Angeles River at a point known as the Glendale Narrows, one of only four sections of the 77-mile long river where the river bottom is composed of sand, not concrete. For this reason it is a favorite spot for local birdwatchers as both migrating and local birds share the flora and fauna that grows naturally in the river at this point.

The natural flow of the river along the banks of Frogtown has made this one of the focal points for the City of Los Angeles’ current river remediation plan that includes upgraded biking and walking trails, enhanced lighting, bird watching areas and other measures designed to accommodate the growing numbers of visitors. The Klub owners plan to make extensive improvements to the building prior to its official opening later this year.

“They are planning to make part of the property a rest point for bikers and walkers with a café and other amenities to serve them,” said Tuszynski. “Timing is everything and they plan to take advantage of the increased numbers of people using the river and its trails for recreational purposes.”

Over the years, the area, which runs for three miles along Riverside Drive near Griffith Park, was known as Elysian Valley. It received the “Frogtown” moniker when thousands of frogs used to spawn in the the nearby river once a year and then invade nearly every square inch of the adjacent neighborhood. Over the decades, the frogs, due to urbanization and pesticides in the river water, left the area and never returned, but the name stuck.

In the halls of the city’s planning department, it falls within the Silver Lake-Echo Park Planning Area, which has been the focus of gentrification efforts supported by the mayor and others within city government. Properties all along Riverside Drive that once were used for industrial purposes are now being transformed into trendy cafes, modern mixed-use residential developments, and artists’ studios, Tuszynski noted.

“It’s the natural evolution of an area of the city where there is a higher and better use available for properties that have outlived their original purposes,” he added. “The city’s plan is to return the river and its riverbanks to its natural state and that will be a boon to businesses located along the river and to local residents who will see their once-forgotten neighborhood the center of all this activity.”