News Article | 2/4/2005

Larry North planning upscale Victory club

As early as next year, Larry North’s new upscale fitness club, Touch, could considerably up the quotient of hard bodies at the high-profile Victory project in Dallas.

“I’m committed to doing one of our super clubs in the Victory project,” North said. “To (echo) Jonas Woods (president of Hillwood Capital), ‘We have no choice but to create the biggest wow factor ever with this club.'”

North is in the final phases of lease negotiations with Hillwood — Ross Perot Jr.’s development company and the primary developer of the Victory project.

If the deal is finalized, the 17,000-square-foot club, which will open in 2006, will be part of the 235,000-square-foot retail component at Victory, stretching from the American Airlines Center south to Woodall Rodgers Freeway.

Hillwood did not comment on the deal, but did confirm it is in discussions with North.

North has six namesake fitness clubs, including four in the Metroplex. North also has announced plans to open a Larry North club in Oak Cliff Gateway, a mixed-use development.

Architecture and interior will differentiate the club from others, North said. The design will likely draw inspiration from award-winning Paris-born architect and interior designer Philippe Starck, whose work is scattered throughout Paris, New York, Mexico and Japan. North has not yet named a designer, but is looking nationally for a high-caliber design team. The club will include an outdoor swimming pool with a full-service bar for members and their guests to enjoy during the spring and summer.

Edgy and sexy

“Touch will be very edgy, sexy, contemporary and hip, yet it’ll have the same type of service of Larry North Fitness,” North said. “In my opinion, Dallas has never had such a sexy environment.”

To ensure that the wow factor is exclusive to Victory, Hillwood has woven exclusivity into the contract, he said. Under the agreement, North will not reuse the name Touch or replicate the club in North Texas.

Bill Howland, director of research for Boston-based International Health Racket & Sportsclub Association, an organization that tracks the fitness industry, says upscale clubs can be a lucrative niche. “These clubs are being billed as the urban country club,” Howland said.

While upscale health clubs in major markets like New York can charge upward of $150 per month plus an upfront initiation fee, North plans to set a month-to-month pricing structure with rates in the $90 to $125 range. The initiation fee will range from $500 to $1,000. Membership will be limited to about 1,500.

North anticipates Touch could generate around $4 million in annual revenue. In comparison, Larry North’s six health clubs together generate about $7 million in revenue a year.

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