Equinox Fitness approved after six failed cases in which BSA found it lied to the Board. In its seventh case before BSA, Equinox Fitness Club obtained approval to legalize its 26,600-square-foot gym at 1511 Third Avenue at East 85th Street. Equinox has operated its Third Avenue gym for over ten years without a permit. The zoning restricts gyms to the first and second stories, but Equinox’s Third Avenue gym occupies space on four stories.
In 1996, Equinox sought to legalize the gym space, applying to BSA for a special permit. Originally, the building had two full stories with L-shaped floors on the third and fourth stories. The Related Company, owners of 1511 Third Avenue at the time, built out full stories on the third and fourth levels, adding 4,400 sq.ft. of space. When Equinox applied for a special permit to legalize the gym, BSA ruled that the gym exceeded its floor area limits and could not be legalized by special permit. Equinox altered the application, seeking a variance, which BSA denied.
Equinox then filed new applications to legalize the space, explaining that the 4,400 sq.ft. of space was leased to a community facility use, a legal use under the zoning code. BSA inspected the site and found that Equinox occupied the space that supposedly contained a community facility use and no wall partition or separate entrance existed.
Equinox again sought a special permit from BSA, claiming that it had designed separate egress for the community facility space. The FDNY opposed the proposal and BSA denied it, finding that the layout did not provide a distinct separation between the gym and the community facility space.
In addition, the building’s owner had added more floor area under a separate Buildings permit, which encroached into the rear yard. Buildings had authorized the extra floor area for mechanical purposes, specifically for a water conservation device. A neighbor appealed to BSA, and when a site visit revealed that Equinox was using the space for laundry, BSA revoked the permit.
In 2005, Equinox proposed a new design for egress to the community facility space and sought new approval. The FDNY had no objections. BSA approved the permit, finally legalizing the gym.
BSA: 1511 Third Avenue (180-05-BZ) (February 28, 2006); (146-03-BZ) (June 7, 2005); (146-03-BZ) (December 9, 2003); (332-01-BZ) (December 10, 2002); (139-02-A) (December 10, 2002). CITYADMIN