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Life Time Fitness promises jobs, gets tax breaks to open in Garden City

A rendering of the three-story fitness complex planned

A rendering of the three-story fitness complex planned by Life Time Fitness of Minnesota in the former Fortunoff's Clearance Center building at 750 Zeckendorf Blvd. in Garden City. Credit: Zeckendorf LLC

A national chain of family-geared health clubs expects to create nearly 200 jobs by opening a second Long Island location on the site of the former Fortunoff clearance center in Garden City.

Life Time Fitness Inc., based in Minnesota, has pledged to hire 181 people within the first year in return for tax breaks from Nassau County. Records show employees earn, on average, $40,000 per year.

The county's Industrial Development Agency agreed Wednesday night to provide a $2 million sales-tax exemption and a 20-year deal on property taxes that freezes them for five years at the current rate, followed by increases of 2 percent in each of the next 15 years.

The 130,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness club is valued at $44 million and will be at 750 Zeckendorf Blvd., near the entrance to Roosevelt Field mall. The property was long home to a clearance center run by Fortunoff, the former jewelry, gift and home furnishings retailer based in Westbury.

Life Time Fitness is best known for its indoor and outdoor swimming pools, restaurant and cafe, spa, salon and children's recreation area.

IDAs are prohibited from helping retailers under a 2013 state law pushed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Joseph J. Kearney, Nassau IDA executive director, said Life Time Fitness is eligible to get aid because it falls under an exception to the prohibition. He said the club's members pay rent for the lockers they use, "which is similar to a landlord-tenant relationship and allowed under state law."

Kearney also said Life Time Fitness qualifies for the tourism exception because 2,000 of its members are expected to come from outside Nassau.

"There is a need for this and it removes a dilapidated eyesore from the area," he said.

Life Time Fitness opened its first local club in 2011 in Syosset. That facility also received help from the IDA.

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