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Intown Stars doing $4 million renovation, opening space on DeKalb Industrial Way

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Intown Stars doing $4 million renovation, opening space on DeKalb Industrial Way

Intown Stars Gymnastics is undergoing a $4 million renovation and expansion and will open a new location on DeKalb Industrial Way in August 2022. Photo courtesy of Intown Stars Gymnastics.

This story has been updated.

Greater Decatur, GA — Intown Stars is undergoing a $4 million renovation and expansion. Intown Stars will open its new doors at 421 DeKalb Industrial Way on Aug. 8.

Intown Stars, previously called Intown Stars Gymnastics, is currently located 2935 N. Decatur Road. That location will close as of June 30.

Intown Stars owner and CEO Anna Santiago aims to have a welcoming, stylish, clean space. Intown Stars will provide classes, camps, after school care, special events, indoor turf, courts and batting cage rentals for all ages, according to a press release.

Studio rentals, adult sports leagues, corporate event and community events will be offered for adults. A roller-skating rink will be the latest addition to Intown Stars’ offerings.

“This exciting new expansion will be done in two phases,” Santiago said. “Half of the 75,000 square-foot building (the south side of the building) will open in August 2022 for gymnastics, parkour, camps, parties, and our newest program, Intown Stars Dance. The outdoor field will also be open for beach volleyball, soccer, sports camps, and field day activities.”

The second phase of the renovation and expansion will open in January 2023. It will feature a parent observation lounge, batting cages, turf fields, and professional court flooring for multi-sport classes, rentals and activities. There will be a strength and conditioning center, retail area and a café as well.

“Anna has the drive and focus to build a business that is good for the community and for her employees,” Intown Stars’ COO, Brittany Baker said. “Our mission is, Kids Like it Here. The best moments are when the children are begging their parents not to leave. Because then we know we’ve done our job. As long as that keeps happening, Intown Stars will keep growing as a leader in youth sports for Atlanta.”

Intown Stars has become a foundation for owner and CEO Anna Santiago’s family. Intown Stars has grown through the years with her sons, Roman and Gabriel. Photo courtesy of Intown Stars.

Intown Stars opened in 2012, when Santiago’s sons, Gabriel and Roman, were babies. Now 14 and 12-years-old, the boys grew up in the gym and are high-level gymnasts.

“This past summer, my boys Gabriel and Roman started working as summer gymnastics camp staff,” Santiago said. “Roman is even starting to coach classes. It’s hard to believe that my little boys are now teaching other kids the skills they’ve learned over the last ten years. The little kids look up to them. It has really come full circle. The growth of Intown Stars is embedded in our family. We can’t wait to see what happens next.”

Santiago began the gymnastics program 10 years ago by teaching classes to her friends’ children in a Sunday School room at a neighborhood church. She was a gymnast who had taught gymnastics through college. She hadn’t run a gym before, but her executive background helped her learn how to do so.

“I started Intown Gymnastics by teaching gymnastics to my friends’ kids,” Santiago said. “I sent out some emails and a PayPal link to the neighborhood moms I knew, and the next thing you know, I had a waiting list.”

Santiago moved Intown Stars into a space in Grant Park in 2015. Over the next couple of years, the classes and staff grew.

“As the girls grew, a gymnastics team naturally formed – not only the team, but the girls themselves were growing – and the gymnasts were hitting the walls with their feet,” Santiago said. “We had to find a larger space, fast.”

“I couldn’t find a large warehouse space to accommodate the unique needs of a gymnastics facility,” she added. “Then, a gymnastics center in Decatur suddenly shut its doors, and I immediately started getting dozens of emails and calls from those parents asking if we could take on the kids. But my Grant Park space was too small, and I already had waiting lists. Soon, I took over the Decatur space for a year, thanks to City Schools of Decatur, who owned the property. They were incredibly gracious and allowed me to come in and use the space for Intown Stars gymnastics program. It was amazing timing.”

Intown Stars could only stay at the Talley Street location for one year, as the property was eventually torn down to make room for Talley Street Upper Elementary School. In 2017, the program moved into an 18,000 square-foot warehouse on North Decatur, where Intown Stars is currently located.

By 2018, Santiago expanded the space to 23,000 square feet after meeting Damon Vance from Relevance Building Solutions who shared her vision for Intown Stars. They designed and built a mezzanine spanning the length of the building, which allowed for more office space, parent observation and an expansion of the preschool programming.

The team was able to focus on building the core gymnastics classes and team. They also began a men’s gymnastics team, an after school program and a parkour program.

“Gymnastics was an important part of my life and I wanted to share that love with my boys,” Santiago said. “So, when I finally found a place to build a gymnastics program the way I wanted to, I knew I would start a men’s team. It is no doubt what I’m most proud of is what I created for the community and for my boys.”

In 2020, Intown Stars Gymnastics was named one of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc. Magazine.

“What sets Anna apart is her leadership. She engages her employees in a shared mission: to build community and build leaders,” Vance said.

He continues to work with Intown Stars by leading the construction of its new multi-sport facility, and leading business development initiatives.

“She’s always growing the business to meet the needs of the community. This new, larger space is critical to that,” he added.

Intown Stars shut down on March 11, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2020, Santiago closed the Grant Park location and focused on the Decatur location.

“When the world shut down, I had to furlough my entire staff and everyone had to go on unemployment,” Santiago said. “It was such a surreal time for me, as the owner of a business that had only known growth. Suddenly, I had to bring a runaway train to a screeching halt.”

Intown Stars tentatively re-opened for classes with strict COVID-19 protocols in the summer of 2020.

“We had to pivot in a way we never imagined. Our after-school program turned into a virtual learning lounge during the day while parents went to work.” Santiago said. “My leadership team turned into infectious disease experts, and I turned into the
mask police.”

More 100 kids a week came to do virtual school at Intown and Intown provided scholarships for many students.

“It was really hard, but worth it,” Santiago said. “We made it through the pandemic successfully. The community trusted us to take care of them, and I believe we did. We took it seriously, we followed the science, and we stayed the course.”

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