Community Board 12 voted in favor of allowing a fitness company to open a gym in downtown Jamaica at its June 20 meeting. The decision was held over from last month with members wanting a guarantee that job priority would be given to district residents. That idea was dropped.
Blink Fitness is seeking a variance to allow a gym to be constructed within portions of an existing building at 163-02 Jamaica Ave. Todd Dale, the zoning lawyer representing the company, said at the May 16 CB 12 meeting that it doesn’t have a hiring plan in place, because it is too early in the process.
When pressed on how Blink typically hires employees at new locations, Dale said it is by posting an announcement on the company’s website, advertising in area newspapers and hanging fliers in the surrounding community. But residents were not satisfied with that answer and the board tabled the vote.
Cardinal Sandiford, the chairman of the Land Use Committee, said at the June 20 meeting that it had recently received correspondence from Blink stating that the company would try to hire as many people as it could within a five-mile area of the location. The application passed by a vote of 33-0 with 17 absent.
“I would like to remind people that as a city agency we cannot dictate hiring practices, but as a community you can pursue it, because I know there were a lot of problems about it the last time,” Sandiford said, referring to the opposition at last month’s meeting.
Also at the meeting, Herve Carrie of the city’s Department of Design and Construction and Robert White, an engineering consultant with the Manhattan-based firm AKRF, made a presentation regarding the DDC’s application to widen a portion of 142nd Street south of 135th Avenue for safety reasons.
If the application were to be approved by the Department of City Planning, the city would acquire a triangular vacant lot, which would allow it to correct the alignment problem, and would complete a capital project to improve the intersection.
“If any of you live out there, there was a capital project that was initiated there and was completed, and this portion or segment of the project wasn’t part of that because the city didn’t own the property and the road wasn’t correctly aligned,” White explained. “So, this process will hopefully expedite that.”
Sandiford said his committee supported the plan because of safety concerns, since it is a relatively high traffic area, but was wary that as with all city projects it would take longer than expected. The application passed by a vote of 31-1 with one abstention.
The third application was to extend the building permit, which had lapsed, for a construction at 178-06 90 Ave. in Jamaica. Sandiford said the project has been in the works for five years, and that the owner had only managed to successfully complete the foundation. He also said the owner has made attempts to sell or lease the property and failed. The Land Use Committee’s recommendation was to turn down the application.
The fourth application was to build a four-story building with a cellar at 146-01 105 Ave. in Jamaica, which requires a variance because it does not meet the city’s side yard requirements. Sandiford’s committee recommended that it not be approved. “We have too many people coming into our community, abusing laws — and this is one of those cases,” he said. “When they are purchasing a property, they know there are regulations against it, but they still try to bypass the rules.”
CB 12 did not vote on the third and fourth applications, because neither the property owner nor a representative attended to make a presentation or answer questions.