With a crane already tearing away at the property at 1 Gannett Dr. in the background, representatives from Lifetime Fitness joined local political leaders Wednesday to celebrate the official-ground breaking of a new 209,000 square foot fitness facility.
The facility, which breezed through Harrison’s application process in only seven months, is expected to be open for business at some point in 2014.
“We are excited about our expansion in the New York market and the opportunity to bring out unique, family-oriented healthy way of life destination to the Harrison community,” said Jeff Zwiefel, executive vice president and chief of operations at Lifetime Fitness.
Plans for the facility, to be built at the site of the old Journal News headquarters, include 10 tennis courts, squash courts, a professional-level basketball court and two-story rock-climbing wall. There will also be recreation pools, lap pools, an outdoor bistro and two-story outdoor water slides.
A staff of certified personal trainers, nutrition coaches and group fitness instructors will also be on site to help members reach fitness goals.
Based in Minnesota, Lifetime Fitness operates more than 100 gyms nationwide. Officials say the facility takes a different approach to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
“Think of it less as a health club, more of a lifestyle resort, all under one roof,” said Jason Thunstrom, Lifetime Fitness vice president and corporate director of communications.
Local political leaders have praised the new facility as an opportunity to reinvigorate the town’s slumping Platinum Mile. Lifetime Fitness’ new facility will not only provide an income through property tax payment, but could also be a new incentive for surrounding businesses to open in the area.
“This facility will develop into a premier property in our community, promoting out slogan, ‘It’s great to live in Harrison’,” said Harrison Mayor/Supervisor Ron Belmont. “I am positive Lifetime Fitness will lead by example and will be a mainstay of our community for many years to come.”
After approaching the town board with it’s proposal in late 2011, Lifetime Fitness received final approval to build on the facility in only seven months, a quick turnaround in a sometime arduous process.
“It’s a demonstration of incredible support,” Thunstrom said.
Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino also praised the addition of Lifetime Fitness to the Platinum Mile, saying he expects the construction project to add about 350 jobs over the next 15 months and hundreds of permanent jobs once the facility opens.
Once the doors open at Lifetime Fitness, Astorino projects the facility will inject more than $100 million into the county’s economy over the first three years.
Westchester County worked with Lifetime Fitness to create several tax incentives to draw the facility to Harrison, Astorino said, including tax-exempt purchases of exercise machines he estimates will save the company about $2 million over the next five years.
“Government does not create jobs, only strong willed, determined entrepreneurs build these jobs,” Astorino said. “What government can do is create the environment where businesses can succeed, and that is what we are trying to do here.”
The demolition of the current building will take place over the next 60 days following by a 12-14 month construction period.
Although pricing has not been set for members joining the facility, Thunstrom estimated the monthly fee for an individual to join Lifetime Fitness will be around $130 per-month with the cost of a family a little less than $300.