Fitness Plus owner Rick Streb finds Mother Nature has delayed construction of his new facility.

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. - When Rick Streb, owner of Fitness Plus, decided to build a larger facility for his business, he figured he would open his doors in early 1999. He never expected Mother Nature to rain on his parade. And rain. And rain.

"We've had nothing but rain for almost every other day," he lamented. "For four weeks in a row, it rained."

All this rain has dampened the club's construction. The cold temperatures that froze the ground at the beginning of the project didn't help matters either.

This bad weather has kept Streb from bringing his business back to the town where it all started. Fitness Plus opened in Lee's Summit on June 1, 1997, with a 5,000-square-foot facility. By October 1998, the club had grown too large for its space, so Streb sought new quarters. Since no existing facilities suited his needs, however, he decided to build a more suitable home. In the meantime, he moved Fitness Plus to a 6,700-square-foot facility in nearby Blue Springs.

Once completed, the new Fitness Plus in Lee's Summit will occupy 20,000 square feet, allowing the club to double -possibly even triple - its membership base. Fitness Plus will also add $80,000 of new cardio and strength machines, a full tanning salon with 10 high-powered beds, physical therapy and massage therapy.

Fitness Plus will be situated in a business park located in a thriving community. "We chose that area because Lee's Summit is growing," Streb explained. "The city of Lee's Summit a couple years ago was considered one of the fastest-growing communities in the Midwest, and it's still moving at the same pace."

With residences and businesses spreading throughout Lee's Summit, Streb sees big things for his club in this booming community. If only it would stop raining...

"Yesterday, we got an inch and a half of rain," Streb reported. "When you are trying to pour a 22,000-square-foot foundation, that makes it tough - especially when we've been getting it every other day. And it's supposed to rain again tonight."

The rain hasn't been the only setback. The local zoning board presented some minor complications. The new facility is going to take up 4.5 acres of 21 acres that required rezoning - from heavy industrial to light industrial. "Light industrial allows businesses like myself, daycare centers and things like that to come in," Streb explained.

The zoning board believed that LeMone-Smith Development company, the property's owner, was doing spot rezoning just for the fitness center. However, LeMone-Smith wanted to rezone to make room for Fitness Plus and other businesses that didn't fall under heavy industrial. In the end, Fitness Plus and LeMone-Smith went to the city council, which voted in favor of the rezoning.

In the grand scheme of things, the zoning board's protests didn't present many problems. The weather did. Still, things are now on track. At press time, Streb expected to open in August, with a grand opening taking place this month.

"Weather permitting, he said, laughing.