Fitness gym hopes to relocate to former Good Food Market building

The shadow of Good Food Market’s nasty experience with Chestnut Hill neighbors loomed over last night’s community meeting over a fitness gym’s plan to relocate to 12 W. Willow Grove Ave.

Balance Chestnut Hill, which offers personal fitness training and exercise classes, briefed the development review committee (DRC) of the Chestnut Hill Community Association last night on its plan to move  at 5 East Highland Ave. to the former GFM building.

Amy Carolla, representing Balance, told committee members she does not think her business will create any parking problems for neighbors.

“A great number of our clientele live within a half mile of Good Food Market,” Carolla said. “So we’re going to encourage them to run, bike and walk (to Balance).”

The W. Willow Grove Avenue location doesn’t have a parking lot, so clients who drive to Balance likely will park on the street.

The Good Food Market was open for just a few months before abruptly closing in April 2010. Its owner then complained that near neighbors were relentless in their opposition over zoning and parking issues.

Carolla said Balance rarely has more than 30 people at the current location at any one time.  She did say the operation is looking for more space, with lockers and new bathrooms.

Committee member Cynthia Brey asked whether Balance was likely to attract more people: “But by expanding the space you also have potential in the future to expand. Would that be a fair assumption?”

Carolla agreed, but stressed that Balance is not seeking to become a big, mass-market gym such as Bally’s, but will focus on personal training by appointment.

Balance Chestnut Hill’s plan needs a use variance from the the Philadelphia Zoning Board of Adjustments, so it is seeking the community association’s blessing for the project.

Committee members asked Balance Chestnut Hill to present its plan within the next month to the association’s a aesthetic and land use committees, as well as the Chestnut Hill Business Association.

Currently Nomad, a pop-up store, is using 12 W. Willow Grove Ave.  Carolla said if Balance gets city approval, Nomad would have to leave as soon as renovation begins. She said if all goes well Balance could be operating in its new location by May.

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