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Fitness club project shapes up in Tualatin

Daily Journal of Commerce

February 8th 2012

Construction of an $18.5 million fitness club is finally under way in Tualatin, after financing hurdles were cleared and neighboring residents' concerns were addressed.

The Stafford Hills club will cater to well-heeled locals, and offer seven professional-grade tennis courts, a solar-heated swimming pool and state-of-the-art fitness equipment. Attorney and developerJim Zupancic is hailing the 90,000-square-foot, two-building facility as a first-class center long missing in the metro area.

"People are yearning for a real five-star experience, and that's what we'll be providing for them," said Zupancic, whose Lake Oswego firm, Zupancic Rathbone Law Group, is leading the project on the five developable acres of a 16-acre parcel near Legacy Meridian Park Medical Center.

Early plans for the site, on Southwest Nyberg Lane, called for building 130 condo/apartment units. But that changed in late 2008, when the developers noticed a shift in the housing market.

"We actually developed this concept, which we think is far superior to anything we could've come up with on the housing side," Zupancic said. "There hasn't been a new tennis facility built in the Portland area in the last 35 years, and there is really nothing in the area that will be comparable, except perhaps the Multnomah Athletic Club."

But some residents of the surrounding Fox Hill neighborhood contended that the project would bring too much traffic to Nyberg Lane, decrease property values, and lessen privacy of housing nearby.

Several residents in 2010 appealed to Tualatin City Council after the city's Architectural Review Board approved Myhre Group Architects' design of the club. The council upheld the board's approval; however, several compromises were made in response to residents' concerns.

"We made some pretty slight changes," Myhre Group principal Ray Yancey said. "Parking was a big concern they had, so we added some parking spaces to the west side of the site, away from the neighborhood."

City Council also required the design to include translucent glass in the windows facing houses to the east.

Many people in the area have supported the project since plans became public. Approximately 400 people preregistered for club memberships online, according to Stafford Hills' director of project management, Maggie Creps.

"The initial rush to sign up was back in February 2010, and most of them stuck with us," she said.

The facility was initially slated to open in mid-2010, but now the grand opening is scheduled for November.

"It's exciting, considering how long that initial phase took to get to this point," Creps said.

The seven indoor tennis courts are surrounded by large, roll-up doors so that fresh air can flow in on nice days.

And because the club is surrounded by wetlands, wooded areas and a park, the design also incorporates warm colors, stonework and trellis features.

A Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design silver rating is being targeted for the project, which will include 50,000 watts of rooftop photovoltaic panels, two electric vehicle charging stations and wetland restoration.

Tualatin-based Todd Construction is the project's general contractor. Crews this week are pouring footings and foundations, and working on a large retaining wall on the south side.

"We have visited projects all the way from Melbourne, Australia to New England and incorporated what we think are some of the best practices throughout the world," Zupancic said. "Stafford Hills will bring something to this area that has never before been introduced in the Pacific Northwest."

The developers are still looking for restaurants to sign on. Therapeutic Associates has signed a lease and will provide physical therapy services at the club. Players Racquet Shop, a Portland-based tennis gear retailer, has signed a letter of intent, according to Zupancic, who will also serve as the chairman of the club once it opens.