By PHIL NOBILE
Life Time Fitness, a 206,000-square-foot athletic center, along Westchester Avenue in Harrison took another step toward opening its door after reaching a tax agreement with the town.
Life Time Fitness’ West-chester athletic center will feature an array of modern exercise equipment and programs. The 206,000-square-foot facility features an indoor and outdoor pool, a gymnasium with personal trainers and a state-of-the-art tennis complex with 10 indoor courts along with a tennis pro shop and bar. The facility will also include a salon and spa, cafe and multiple yoga and cycling studios.
“One of the biggest things for Life Time is the depth and breadth of amenities,” Natalie Bushaw. Life Time’s director of public relations, said. “Many people today feel they want to go to a small boutique in order to meet their passions, such as yoga or classic training. With Life Time, a number of unique offerings are all in one place.”
The fitness center, which will hold its Westchester grand opening Feb. 6, has taken over the old Journal News property, 1 Westchester Park, and will be the first Life Time athletic center in the county. This branch of Life Time Fitness will also be the first new one to open in 2014 for the company and just the second in all of New York. Life Time Fitness started in 1992 in Minnesota, and has since expanded nationwide with more than 100 centers across 22 states.
“Being able to serve single and family memberships lined up with the demographics [in Westchester],” Bushaw said. “This particular property had fairly easy access, so it worked well for us in terms of being an accessible location and being able to draw from various communities in the area.”
In order to facilitate the fitness center’s opening, Harrison reached a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement at the Town Council’s Jan. 16 meeting. May-or Ron Belmont, a Re-publican, described the agreement as “fair.” He said the agreement ser-ves as a guarantee for Life Time Fitness for the next decade to operate in the county because it will contractually obligate them to the property.
A PILOT agreement is usually used to compensate a local government for property tax revenue. The specifics of the agreement were unavailable as the agreement was expected to be finalized after press time, according to Deputy Village Attorney Chris Cipolla. Once the agreement is finalized, then Westchester County will step in and provide its economic incentives to Life Time Fitness.
“It’s tough to get a business started up like Life Time Fitness because of all the start-up costs,” Britta Vander Linden, a spokesperson for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said. “Lots of times, the town and companies come up with an agreement to start off.”
Appealing to corporations and companies with tax-breaks and incentives from the county is common practice for businesses along Westchester Avenue.
In December 2013, Master-Card’s headquarters, also located along the so-called Platinum Mile district, announced plans to renovate and extend its stay in the county, and in Harrison, after financial incentives were agreed upon. A sales tax exemption was given to MasterCard for all supplies purchased during the six-year renovation period to the tune of $1.3 million.
A 95,000-square-foot multipurpose field house is also being proposed just down the road at Westchester County’s Playland amusement park in Rye. That project is part of large-scale vision to redevelop the historic amusement park by the non-profit group Sustainable Playland. The field house portion of the proposal has ignited a firestorm of controversy from neighboring residents who believe the building will encroach on their quality of life.