Jefferson officials say opening of health spa is good sign for Fat City _lowres

Advocate staff photo by SCOTT THRELKELD -- The corner of Edenborn Avenue at 18th Street in Fat City, pictured here in September 2013.

Jefferson Parish officials will gather in Fat City on Thursday to laud the arrival of a $4 million health spa that, perhaps fittingly, opened last month in a building formerly devoted to drinking and fighting.

Parish leaders are trying to transform the Metairie neighborhood and wipe away memories of its seedier days, when its bars and strip clubs attracted underage drinkers and contributed to an image of low-level lawlessness.

Led by Parish Councilwoman Cynthia Lee-Sheng, Jefferson began taking steps to clean up Fat City several years ago, creating a special sales tax district and rezoning the neighborhood to encourage a more diverse retail mix.

The parish has been cracking down on bars selling to underage customers, and the Sheriff’s Office has beefed up enforcement.

Along with some planned streetscaping work, parish and Jefferson Economic Development Commission officials are hoping Fat City’s eventual conversion to a walkable neighborhood of local restaurants and retailers will attract residential development suited to young professionals.

That’s where businesses like Chronos Wellness Center come in, and Thursday’s ceremonial ribbon-cutting is meant to emphasize its presence as part of the broader effort to bring attention to the “new” Fat City.

Chronos actually opened its 13,000-square-foot spa, salon and full-service fitness center on North Arnoult Road on Dec. 15, expanding into a building that was formerly home to Escapades bar and a training gym for mixed martial arts fighters.

While most of the building was demolished, some of it was repurposed for the newly expanded center, which offers a 24-hour fitness center, full-service day spa, nutrition and weight management counseling and a medical spa, according to a news release from the company.

Parish President John Young and Lee-Sheng are scheduled to be on hand to tout the new business and other Fat City developments, including a new $4.8 million Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office station that will become home to roughly 77 officers when it opens early next year.

Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.