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Planet Fitness to move HQ to Hampton

Union Leader Correspondent

November 13. 2016 8:50PM
Planet Fitness's 16 New Hampshire locations includes one on Lafayette Road in Portsmouth. The company plans to move its headquarters from Newington to Hampton. (KIMBERLEY HAAS/Union Leader Correspondent)

NEWINGTON — The home of the “Judgment Free Zone” is moving to Hampton.

Planet Fitness, which has been headquartered in Newington since 2010, announced this week it will be expanding and plans to renovate a 70,000-square-foot building on Liberty Lane West in Hampton. The new location will include a 4,000-square-foot fitness center, a café, barista station and areas for employees to collaborate and socialize.

Sam Altreuter, a principal at Farley White Interests, which is a Boston-based owner of commercial real estate, said the company bought the building in 2015.

“The building is an ideal fit for Planet Fitness as they continue on their impressive growth trajectory with new renovations that will create an amazing work environment for their expanding workforce,” Altreuter said in a statement.

In the past five years, Planet Fitness (NYSE:PLNT) has hired 140 corporate employees, and now has 180 people working in their 25,000-square-foot headquarters. The company has 16 workout locations in New Hampshire, and over 1,200 gyms in the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.

“As we continue to grow the business and add top-notch talent to our team, our new headquarters is an important investment in our employees and our future,” Planet Fitness CEO Chris Rondeau said in a statement.

McCall Gosselin, vice president of public relations and communications, clarified Wednesday the company was never almost forced out of New Hampshire due to a tax law, as has been reported. In May of last year, a lawyer representing the company threatened to move the company’s headquarters out of state, arguing that a tax law would place an unfair burden on the company as it began to sell shares publicly. The Senate Finance Committee worked to change the law, even though officials from the Department of Revenue Administration warned lawmakers of its potential negative effects.

In May of this year, the state’s House of Representatives approved the so-called Planet Fitness bill, which changed how closely held companies such as sole proprietorships or limited liability companies are taxed when they receive an infusion of cash from an initial public offering or investment capital. Under Senate Bill 342, Planet Fitness and other LLCs are now not subject to the nearly 8 percent state business profits tax.

When Gov. Maggie Hassan signed the legislation in June, she said eliminating the “phantom tax” is a way elected officials could support growing businesses, encourage capital investment and give companies more flexibility.

When asked specifically about the tax law changes this week, Gosselin said, “We were almost forced to leave New Hampshire, which has been our home for almost 25 years. We are thrilled to keep our headquarters here in our founding state and look forward to continuing to provide jobs in the state as we grow in Hampton.”

Planet Fitness, founded in Dover in 1992, has more than 8.7 million members.

Last week, the company announced that through Nov. 16 it will donate the $10 enrollment fee for new members to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and the STOMP Out Bullying program. The company also has been building mini-gyms at Boys and Girls Club locations, including one in Manchester.

Planet Fitness shares were trading at $24 Thursday, the day the company announced a special cash dividend of $2.78 per share to holders of Class A common stock and equivalent payments to unit holders of Pla-Fit Holdings LLC.

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