Code compliance officers are investigating businesses at the Edgemar Center for the Arts on Main Street. (File photo)

EDGEMAR CENTER — A recent stir about an incoming Crossfit gym at the Edgemar Center For The Arts is putting pressure on several other properties within the Frank Gehry-designed complex.

Code compliance is actively investigating Brick + Mortar restaurant, one work-live art studio, and the operation of a parking gate, said Code Compliance Manager Joe Trujillo.

On Tuesday, City Council voted to deny the appeal put forth by neighbors of the proposed Crossfit. The decision allows the gym to move forward, but with several council-imposed conditions.

In their argument against the proposed gym, neighbors pointed to the 1997 document that governs the property, which says that if the owner of any property is in violation of the document then no further permits can be allowed.

Leading up to the appeal, neighbors lodged numerous official complaints about other Edgemar properties, some of which, Trujillo said, may be valid.

Mario Fonda-Bonardi, who spoke on behalf of the neighbors, said that since the 1997 agreement, 44 conditions have been violated. Over the last 10 years, he said, there have been at least 25 formal violations, an average of one every five months.

Brick + Mortar, which was cited in December for conducting nightclub activities like queuing and checking identification at the door, has been under further scrutiny since mid-summer, Trujillo said.

“Everything we worked on prior to that had been pretty much nighttime operations,” he said. “We got the recent complaints about the daytime operations. Really it was football games going on, on Saturdays.”

The Daily Press reached out to the restaurant and the person who answered the phone had no comment. Brick + Mortar’s website and Facebook page have videos of large groups of fans watching University of Michigan football games.

“We picked up our enforcement and sometimes, with our cases, it takes time and it takes a number of inspections for us to build a case,” Trujillo said. “So that’s what we were in the process of doing.”

One case of a bar operating as a restaurant, which is currently with the City Attorney’s Office, took Code Compliance almost a year and a half to build. Trujillo said they are monitoring several of these types of violations.

“That’s not just up and down on Main Street,” he said. “We have them on Wilshire, Santa Monica, Ocean, all throughout the city.”


What is art? Code compliance decides


Another property under investigation at the Edgemar is one of the two work-live studios. Under the 1997 agreement, the spaces were to be occupied by artists or the windows and doors facing Second Street were supposed to be covered up.

Fresh Interactive, a digital media company, occupies one of the artist live-work studios. This designation qualifies the occupant as an artist, city officials said.

Confusion surrounded the second studio on the night of the council meeting. City planners originally said that an artist occupied the space and made no mention of a company being based there.

Councilmembers pressed the issue, stating that they’d been to the location and found it to be operated by HipSwap, which, according to its website, is an online store to “shop for millions of fashion items.”

City planners insisted that HipSwap was not based in the studio.

But Trujillo then told council that HipSwap is still under investigation.

The Daily Press stopped by the studio and the occupant, who would not give his name, acknowledged that HipSwap was operating out of the space. His partner, he said, lives in the space. Two little dogs scurried through the homey, furnished studio.

The occupant said that the space was not being used as storefront and that the issue was raised by neighbors simply as an attempt to squash the Crossfit.

Reached after the meeting, Trujillo acknowledged that one of the studios is under investigation, but he could not elaborate because the case is ongoing.

“We’re going to make sure we understand what it’s being used for and make sure that is what it’s being used for,” he said. “We certainly have to understand what the definition is. Then, what we do is we’ll go out and inspect a property interior. We have visited the property, but we have to understand that somebody is in fact using it in the way that it’s intended to be used, and not just strictly as a business.”

Those who operate the parking gate, which Code Compliance has been monitoring since receiving complaints last week, have not yet been found to be violating any conditions. People complained that the parking gate was open when it should have been closed.

More than 15 neighbors spoke in opposition to the proposed Crossfit at the meeting and 12 spoke in favor of it.

The gym is slated to open in January.

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