Although many of the local officials and landlords believe a new gym is a terrific business for the Pelham Parkway shopping district, others are still not convinced.
After the 22,000 square-foot property between 2129 and 2139 White Plains Road was destroyed during a five-alarm blaze in February 2008, the site was refurbished over the next two years by property owner Sopher Properties.
In a neighborhood already known for an abundance of quality stores and shopping options, the idea of opening a Planet Fitness Gym on the entire second floor and basement of the new building seemed like a wonderful fit for the White Plains Road Business Improvement District. The building will provide an elevator strictly for Planet Fitness members to use its facilities.
The BID is in favor of the idea, adding something new to the area, but many local residents are opposed to a the gym because it will remain open for 24 hours Monday through Thursday.
“This is something that we don’t have in the neighborhood and we all think it’s something that will benefit the whole community,” said Howard Spring, president of the BID. “A gym being open 24-hours-a-day shouldn’t be something to be worried about like a bar or a night club. We feel there’s no danger in keeping a gym open through the night.”
At an emergency meeting with members of Community Board 11 on Thursday, March 17, many local residents and officials, as well as a representative from the upcoming Planet Fitness, were present to discuss the potential gym.
Chase Villafana, managing director of the Planet Fitness, confirmed the lease has been signed with Sopher Properties.
The owners of the Planet Fitness also own another location on 3060 Westchester Avenue in Pelham Bay, which is also kept open during 24-hours-a-day, but Villafana says there has never been a problem there.
On Monday, March 21, Community Board 11 district manager Jeremy Warneke, board member Joe Bombace and Pelham Parkway South Community Association president Edith Blitzer had a meeting with Sopher Properties owner Marilyn Sopher to discuss the matter further.
According to Blitzer, the meeting went very well.
“Marilyn Sopher is a wonderful woman and they were very understanding in how we want what’s best for our community,” Blitzer said. “We were able to go on a tour of the new building, which is beautiful, and were pleased to see security cameras built outside of the facility. We would like Planet Fitness to be part of our community, we just don’t think there is a need to keep it open all night.”
CB 11 will be meeting with Planet Fitness representatives at the full board meeting on Thursday, March 24.