File photo

File photo

MAIN STREET — A Crossfit gym could be opening in the Edgemar Center in January.

Plans for the oft-criticized franchise were approved by the Planning Commission in June. Edgemar neighbors are appealing the decision through the City Council.

Crossfit is a group-based, high-intensity training program currently practiced at about 7,000 gyms in the U.S.

Kaj Larsen, a former CNN corespondent and Carter Gaffney, a LegalZoom executive, will own and run the gym. The two met in the Naval Academy and served as Navy SEALs. Larsen acknowledged that Crossfit has a controversial reputation but said that it’s based on “misinformation.” They plan to focus more on their military fitness training and use the franchise for its name recognition.

“Crossfit is just one element of what we’re doing,” Larsen said. “Had we known it would be so controversial we would have been happy not to call it Crossfit at all. We would have called it high-intensity interval training.”

The partners wanted to call the gym SEALfit, but the name was already taken by a fashion company, Larsen said.

The gym would occupy a 2,600-square-foot, first-floor space currently filled by an advertising agency.

Jeff Gilbert, the son of appellant Janet Gilbert, said that parking and noise are their primary concerns. Gilbert lives nearby and owns four bungalows that abut the parking lot. He worries about the proposed 6 a.m. weekday opening time. He plans to move if the plan goes through.

“We’re already woken up periodically throughout the night by patrons from the restaurant and even the employees from the restaurant as they leave,” he said. “It’s disturbing. … We don’t want to be woken up at 6 o’clock in the morning as well.”

The gym would require 22 parking spaces, 13 more than the current number, according to the staff report. A parking variance was approved after a  study found there to be enough existing spaces within the complex, according to the city staff report.

Gilbert said that parking scarcity is a problem in the neighborhood and that the parking study was done while many Edgemar buildings were vacant.

Larsen said that he loves the Edgemar’s history, design, and diversity of retail but that the parking was his primary reason for choosing the property.

“What really made us pick Edgemar is that it’s the only facility in Santa Monica that could support the requirements of our gym in terms of parking,” he said. “Because it has over 100 dedicated parking spots on-site, it was really one of the only feasible spaces in the whole city of Santa Monica for this.”

Santa Monica, Larsen said, is a city full of people dedicated to fitness. He pointed to the recent debate over council’s approval of an ordinance regulating trainers working in public parks.

“It shows that there’s a tremendous demand for fitness,” he said.

Gilbert’s appeal was scheduled to be heard at the last City Council meeting but Councilman Kevin McKeown pointed to unrelated Edgemar properties that may be violating a development review permit issued in 1996. The permit, McKeown said, allowed only for artist live-work studios to open to Second Street.

Currently, he said, there are two businesses that open to Second. This violation may prohibit the issuance of further conditional use permits, he said. Council voted to delay the appeal hearing until city officials could sort out the discrepancies.

City officials could not be reached to clarify the discrepancies.

 

dave@smdp.com

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