A new athletic club and spa is planned for the southwest corner of East Ustick and North Eagle roads.

On Tuesday Meridian City Council approved VillaSport, a roughly 99,000-square-foot athletic club and spa with several indoor and outdoor pools, a bar, full feature spa, child care, water slides and an outdoor turf field.

The development also includes a roughly 15,300-square-foot retail building across from the athletic club.

Council approved several variances for the project, including allowing outdoor activities from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. so lap swimmers have an hour to practice in the morning; the water slide and other water amenities, however, must close by 9 p.m.

Council also approved a variance allowing the athletic club’s outdoor speaker to be less than 100 feet from nearby residences. The application was continued at its first hearing on Feb. 19 so the developer would have time to apply for these variances.

Nearby residents testified that the project was too close to their homes and the project would create a lot of noise and traffic.

The development is estimated to generate 3,774 vehicle trips per day, according to an Ada County Highway District traffic study.

Jeff Vrba, vice president of the homeowners association for Jackson Square Subdivision next to the proposed development, said the building was too large for that lot. He used Google Maps to show that most other VillaSport locations had either not been built as close to residences or were built before the neighboring houses were.

Residents also expressed concern about the long hours of operation.

Others spoke in support. Becky Webb, who lives nearby, said her family and many of her neighbors were in favor of the project.

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“I am excited about this project,” she said. “It gives all of us neighbors a chance to get to know each other better.”

Tamara Thompson with The Land Group, representing VillaSport, said the building would serve as a sound buffer, reducing the noise from Ustick and Eagle roads — the fifth busiest intersection in the state.

In 2005 the city approved a development agreement with 11 buildings, totaling 150,000 square feet, on the site. As part of the agreement, businesses would have used the southern edge of the property — adjacent to residences — as a loading dock, receiving deliveries in the morning and evening, Thompson said.

She said VillaSport will be much quieter and generate less traffic.

Council members Joe Borton, Ty Palmer, Luke Cavener and Anne Little Roberts voted in favor of the project. Councilwoman Genesis Milam was absent, and Councilman Treg Bernt voted against it.

“I love the project, I’m just not supportive of it in this particular area,” Bernt said.

This will be Idaho’s first VillaSport.

The first VillaSport was opened in 2006 in Colorado. Since then, the company has opened four other clubs and has two in the works, according to VillaSport Senior Vice President of Corporate Development Michael Fassler.

“These aren’t your typical gymnasium or athletic clubs,” Fassler said. “These are something of a resort amenity.”

He said the price of memberships would be determined after the building was complete, likely varying from $92 to $129 a month for a single membership.

​Patty Bowen is the Meridian Press reporter. You can reach her at pbowen@idahopress.com or follow her on Twitter @pattybowenMP.

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