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'Noisy' CrossFit Gym Pounded by Locals for Lack of Permit

By Emily Frost | January 10, 2014 9:26am
 The board rescinded its previous approval of a permit by the company to open a new gym on the Upper West Side. 
CrossFit NYC Denied Permit Approval by CB7
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A new CrossFit gym that residents say is as noisy as a construction site has been operating without proper permits since it opened over the summer — leading neighbors to press for its closure, authorities and residents said.

CrossFit NYC — which sits in the basement of a 31-story condo building on Columbus Avenue and West 67th Street — opened on July 1 with an an Olympic weightlifting setup serving fans of the popular workout regimen. 

But the gym never received the appropriate permit to operate from the city's Board of Standards and Appeals, officials said, and since then it has drawn complaints from neighbors concerned about the racket of falling weights.

"CrossFit has an application for a [Physical Culture Establishment] under review by the BSA — they do not now have a permit," said BSA spokesman Jeffrey Mulligan. "The BSA did not authorize the opening of the gym to the public." 

But that hasn't stopped gym members from lifting heavy free weights and kettlebells and then dropping them to the ground, creating "forces that are on par with a jackhammer," said a resident of the condominium who did not wish to be named.

"It’s equivalent to having construction in your basement," said the man, who's owned an apartment in the building for the past decade and was formerly a member of the condo board. 

A similar situation faced residents of a co-op building in Chelsea who sued over the noise created by CrossFit's weight tossing.

Hari Singh, a co-owner of the Columbus Avenue gym, which also has a Flatiron location, said CrossFit has been very sensitive about "being good neighbors" and its proximity to people's homes. 

"The condo board has expressed some concerns about the potential for noise and vibration from our operation," he said. "Before we signed our lease, we did extensive testing, and we are certain that we will not be detectable to our neighbors."

In November, residents who were fed up with the noise hired a lawyer to fight the gym's attempt to get the proper permits.

Of the 167 apartments in the building, 150 residents signed and notarized objection forms they are submitting to the BSA opposing the permit. And this week, Community Board 7 joined the cause, rescinding its recommendation in favor of the permit it initially submitted to the BSA in the fall. 

The gym's application for the special permit will be reviewed at a BSA hearing on Jan. 28, according to the BSA's December agenda. 

"If a [gym] has been in operation without having obtained the special permit approval, the BSA in its approval typically subtracts the amount of time that they have already been operating from the [maximum] 10-year term," Mulligan explained.

It would then be up to the Department of Buildings to shut down the gym if the BSA denies the permit, he added.

Christopher Wright, the zoning law attorney hired by residents of 157 Columbus Ave., said all neighbors want from the process is the opportunity to weigh in on the gym.

"All we are asking for is a chance for a full and open discussion," he said. 

Residents said they hired an acoustic consultant to do noise testing at the gym, but noted that its operators have not agreed to meet.

However, Singh said the gym has agreed to the testing. "We'll be doing those tests before we return [to the BSA] again later this month," he said.

Richard Asche, co-chair of CB 7's Land Use Committee said he was also concerned because he'd read the lawsuit filed on behalf of the Chelsea residents, who claimed "vibrations [from the basement gym] were felt in the sixth floor apartment." 

The full board voted unanimously to rescind its approval of CrossFit NYC's permit Tuesday. The application will be heard again at the Jan. 15 meeting of the Land Use Committee, and the committee's decision will be voted on by the full board on Feb. 4.

Asche said the board will ask the BSA to delay its decision until after the board has voted again in February.