Required amendment to the Special Development District in Corbin’s where Edge Fitness will be located was approved by the Town Council on Tuesday night.
By Ted Glanzer, West Hartford Press
Edge Fitness is coming to West Hartford, taking the space where Toys R Us was formerly located.
The West Hartford Town Council on Feb. 26 unanimously approved an application from Corbin’s Corner Shopping Center to amend a special development district (SDD) to allow Edge Fitness to have extended hours for its illuminated signage, as well as façade changes to the front of the club, additional windows on the side and rear of the building, and improvements to the pedestrian walkway area including landscaping.
Attorney Robin Pearson of Alter Pearson LLC, representing the applicant, said the use of a fitness club is allowed within the zone, and the change requested merely the signage and improvements. Specifically, the limitation in the SDD called for signage to be turned off at 11 p.m., and Edge Fitness sought to have its lights on for a longer period of time.
Edge Fitness has a 24-hour a day operation Monday through Friday, Pearson said, and on Saturday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Sunday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. They reopen Monday at 5 a.m.
“They’re thinking of changing that at 4 a.m. because that’s what their membership wants,” said Pearson, who added there is always an Edge staffer in the club at all times, as well as “a fairly sizable cleaning crew” that is working at night on a daily basis.
There was no request to change the height or width of the building, and less of the space will be used by Edge Fitness than was used by Toys R Us.
Pearson noted the condition on the lighting for the signage – requiring it to be shut off at 11 p.m. – isn’t present on the other half of the Corbin’s Corner shopping center, which is separately owned by Seritage. The Town Plan and Zoning Commission had a unanimous, positive recommendation to approve the application.
Edge Fitness co-founder and President Vincent Sansone, who opened his first club in 1988, said he was looking forward to opening a club in West Hartford. Edge Fitness, he said, is a homegrown, Connecticut company that is opening locations throughout the country.
“My interest in West Hartford goes back to the 1980s,” He said. “It’s always been a town I’ve wanted to open a club in. … Once you see what we do, you’ll love what we do. We’re in some of the best towns in Connecticut. … But we couldn’t find a good spot for us till Toys R Us vacated the property.”
Sansone said Edge Fitness has either recently opened or will soon open locations in Glastonbury, Bristol, Manchester, and Newington.
Councilor Leon Davidoff had several questions, including the club’s hours. Specifically, Davidoff wanted to know what security measures were in place in the event someone who wasn’t a member wanted to cause trouble in the early morning hours.
“We think about this all the time,” Sansone replied, noting he has clubs in Stratford, Manchester, and Fairfield, that are in or near cities. “We always have someone at the desk and we have 24-hour surveillance cameras.”
The reason for the long hours, Sansone said, is many of the club’s clients work third shift, such as firefighters, police officers, and health-care workers.
“We don’t get a lot of people after midnight through 4 a.m, but we do have people who that’s when they have to go. In all my years, we have never had an incident.”
In addition Sansone noted the cleaning service at the club that works late evening/early morning hours.
“It’s not like you are walking in and no one else is there,” Sansone said.
Davidoff supported the application, stating it’s the second 24-hour fitness club to open in West Hartford, the first being Anytime Fitness in Bishops Corner, which has posed little to no issue in terms of public safety concerns.
Further, Davidoff noted when Toys R Us closed, there was some concern in these economic times as to what business would take that large, big-box space.
“In short order Edge Fitness has come in to occupy the space and not subdivide the space,” Davidoff said. “We’re seeing new uses for these spaces as peoples needs and wants change with respect to their daily routines and what’s important to their lifestyle.”
Davidoff said the lighting proposed in the back was reasonable in light of the little to no use behind the building and the necessity to illuminate that portion of the parking lot for employees to safely make their way to their vehicles.
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