Wilton Manors city officials have given a gym operating on the grounds of The Pride Center at Equality Park until September 5 to resolve business license and commercial platting issues that surfaced after a hearing due to noise complaints from nearby residents.
If Challenge Fitness doesn’t meet a magistrate court’s May 2 ruling regarding the “business tax receipt” violation, it could face further fines and action.
The hearing took place weeks after nearby residents at the Townhomes at Riverside Place complained about excessive noise coming from the gym —billed as a “group personal training” concept owned and managed by Jorge Delgado. Challenge Fitness is located at 2036 North Dixie Highway.
Wilton Manors’ resident Matthew Dreger told SFGN that he and three other residents who live in the townhomes first complained about loud music and the use of a public address (PA) system April 2, the day the gym opened in a building on Pride Center grounds.
“They opened their doors, which are great big 14-foot roll up garage doors and played loud music and had a trainer who was instructing people [over the PA],” Dreger said. “There was a great deal of noise.”
Dreger said he and a neighbor walked to the gym and asked the staff to turn the music down or close the doors. Gym staff told them that they were “being disrespectful” and should “call the police if they had a problem,” Dreger said.
“We called the police and they made them turn the music off,” Dreger said.
Under a magistrate judge’s ruling May 2, a $150 fine was assessed to The Pride Center, who is the landlord of Challenge Fitness. The ruling states that future violations could result in fines of $250 per noise violation.
Dreger said things were quiet for about a week after the police cited the gym, but then the doors were opened again with loud music and PA system noise.
Dreger stressed to officials at the May 2 hearing that residents’ initial visit to the gym was in “a good faith effort” to have the noise toned down by having the doors closed.
“It turned out that the gym was [also] not licensed. [The city] went back and issued a violation for no tax receipt and no license,” said Dreger, who was at the May 2 hearing.
The magistrate judge said Challenge Fitness has to obtain a business license and go through the county to have a plat restriction amended — to green light permission to have a commercial property on Pride Center land.
“The Pride Center is working with its tenant, Challenge Fitness, to ensure any music or other noise issues are resolved. The Center values its healthy, collaborative relationship with the city of Wilton Manors and will continue to cooperate with the city and county to address any technical platting requirements,” Pride Center Chief Operating Officer Kristopher Fegenbush said to SFGN in a statement.
Challenge Fitness attorney Paula Campione told SFGN that the gym applied for a city license in March, prior to opening on April 2.
“Challenge Fitness was assured by the city that its license would be issued upon receipt of some additional clerical information required from The Pride Center as it relates to parking,” she said.
Campione added that it wasn’t until May 1, a day before the hearing, that she received a phone call from the city advising her that there was a plat restriction, “ … which no one seemed to know about, including the city,” she said.
The plat restriction allows industrial use, although it was previously permitted for commercial/retail, she said.
Campione characterizes the platting issue as a “technical matter.”
“The Pride Center via its attorneys has already begun the process of amending the plat by application to the county and subsequently the city,” Campione said. “Challenge Fitness is not the property owner. Thus, the plat restriction must be amended by the property owner.”
In terms of the noise complaints, which precipitated the hearing in the first place, Campione said: “Challenge Fitness remains committed to an amicable resolution without wasting governmental resources and welcomes all of its neighbors with open arms.”
She said the purpose of opening the large bay doors was to utilize the open space for outdoor exercise when the weather permits.
“The ancillary effect was additional ventilation to the large bay, which has plenty of industrial fans,” Campione said. “Challenge Fitness is currently reviewing bids and plans to install a large commercial [air conditioning] unit for the large bay. Once a final determination is made, all the proper permit applications will be made,” she said.