Work on Life Time Fitness in Lake Zurich to resume in late spring, company rep says
The stalled Life Time Fitness project in Lake Zurich will resume in May or June, and when it does, there's about 10 or 11 months of work left to do, according to a Life Time official.
Aaron Koehler, director of development for Life Time Fitness, delivered the news to the Lake Zurich village board at its meeting Monday night. Koehler was invited by the board to speak on the project to dispel rumors of the project's demise.
"Today our plan is that we mobilize back in May or June. That is subject to COVID spikes and any further restrictions that could impact us," Koehler said. "We feel optimistic that at least there is light at the end of the tunnel."
Work on the luxury fitness center on the site of the razed Hackney's restaurant began in 2019, but construction was halted in March 2020 for safety concerns. Koehler said he believes around 40% of the work was complete when they stopped based on how much of the $50 million budget has been spent so far.
Koehler offered a glimpse of how the company reacted in the first weeks of the pandemic.
He said that as it became clear they would not soon be able to reopen its 152 clubs, Life Time officials furloughed thousands of employees. Company leaders decided to halt all six construction projects they were developing themselves, including the Lake Zurich location.
Koehler said the company soon had to decide on either resuming construction work or continuing to pay health benefits for furloughed employees, and it prioritized the latter.
As the weeks dragged on, more clubs reopened with a variety of capacity restrictions, he said, and now club operations continue to trend in a good direction.
Despite the rough year, Koehler was optimistic about the company's health in part because it was able to survive 2020 when many other companies didn't.
"Last year we've seen a pretty significant consolidation of our industry," Koehler said. "For every member not coming back, there a quite a few folks out there."
"We're positioned to be the long-term leader in this industry, and we feel even stronger about that today," Koehler said.
Koehler's outlook on the company's health is far different from what the village rumor mill has made it out to be. Lake Zurich Trustee Jonathan Sprawka said at the board's last meeting that there was a false narrative in the community that Life Time had run out of money and was not going to complete the project. Sprawka asked that Koehler be summoned to give his update.
The project has long been a subject of debate in the village. Koehler first presented the plan to village officials in 2017. The project then underwent a lengthy public review featuring several standing-room-only meetings.
The final design plan, which calls for a two-story facility with a full basement built near the corner of Rand and Old Rand roads, was approved unanimously by the village board in May 2018. Work at the site began with a groundbreaking ceremony in July 2019.