Middletown planners approve Life Time Fitness on Half Mile Road

The Middletown Planning Board has unanimously approved a developer’s request to construct a Life Time Fitness luxury athletic facility at 230 and 250 Half Mile Road.

Testimony on behalf of the applicant, Life Time Fitness, was presented at the board’s Nov. 6 meeting at the municipal building.

Life Time Fitness was seeking major site plan approval for the facility in accordance with the Half Mile Road Redevelopment Plan that was approved by the Township Committee in 2018.

The applicant proposed a three-story, 120,423-square-foot athletic facility with a multi-level parking garage which will accommodate more than 500 parking spaces, an outdoor pool area with water slides, and related site improvements. The property currently contains a vacant three-story office building.

Answering questions posed by attorney Kate Coffey, who represents the applicant, traffic engineer Karl Pehnke said the peak season at a Life Time Fitness is between January and February when “everyone has a (New Year’s) resolution to lose some weight.”

If approval was granted, Pehnke said Life Time Fitness would be expected to open in 2021.

Pehnke said the morning peak hour when the numbers of motorists on the roads is highest occurs between 7:15-8:15 a.m., and in the evening peak hour is between 5-6 p.m. About 250 vehicles will enter the parking lot during the morning peak hour and about 96 vehicles will exit the facility during that time, he said.

In the evening peak hour, Pehnke said about 227 vehicles will enter the parking lot. An estimated 115 vehicles will exit the site at that time, he said.

“The project area is currently under construction with a significant infrastructure improvement … which will change traffic patterns in the area,” Pehnke said.

Improvements to the exit 109 interchange off the Garden State Parkway north, adjacent to Newman Springs Road (Route 520), are currently under construction.

Pehnke said he coordinated his traffic study with the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which owns the parkway, to obtain the authority’s plans for the design of the exit 109 interchange.

He said that project, once complete, will “really do a great job of improving the (traffic) situation and reorder traffic patterns” in the area. He said the upgrades will significantly reduce traffic delays on Newman Springs Road and Half Mile Road.

Pehnke said the parkway project will be complete before Life Time Fitness opens.

Attorney Ron Gasiorowski represented the periodontist office Dicesare & Dicesare, 240 Half Mile Road, which was objecting to the Life Time Fitness application. Gasiorowski cross-examined the applicant’s professional witnesses throughout the application process.

Sanyogita Chavan, Middletown’s director of planning, previously said the application submitted by Life Time Fitness conforms with the township’s redevelopment plan.

At the conclusion of testimony, a motion was made to grant final approval to Life Time Fitness. Voting “yes” on the motion were board Chairman John Deus and board members Joseph AmecAngelo, Kevin Colangelo, Carl Rathjen and Township Committeewoman Patricia Snell, who sits on the board.

At a previous meeting, Aaron Koehler, the director of real estate development at Life Time Fitness, said the facility would be a “significant economic companion” in Middletown.

Koehler said Life Time Fitness would open at 4 a.m. and close at midnight. A cafe, salon, spa, child care center, outdoor bistro and on-site nutritionists would be available to members. He said a single membership could cost $159 per month.

Koehler estimated it would be a $40 million investment to construct the facility in Middletown. He said he expects the business to sell between 5,000 and 6,000 memberships.