On Tuesday the Greenwich Planning & Zoning commission approved a change of use application from dry cleaner to group fitness center in Cos Cob. Katie’s Cleaners at 138 East Putnam Ave will become “Hot Phiit.”
Hot Phiit is a trademark of Infra-HIIT, LLC.
Located in Cos Cob Commons which is anchored by CVS, the Hot Phiit studio would operate in the space between Island Fin Poke and Mumbai Times.
What is it?
Hot Phiit is a fitness studio offering hot hiit (high intensity interval training) pilates classes, a full body workout with music. It is taught in infrared heat, which decreases muscle soreness and promotes a quicker recovery after training sessions.
A diagram of the layout of the 1250 sq ft space features 22 yoga mats and an area in the back with lockers and changing rooms. The front features retail space and both a waiting area and reception area.
Present at the meeting was Elinor Biddle from Urstadt Biddle Properties and Monique Kraus, business owner.
The commission’s discussion focused on parking.
Dry cleaning is a use that is not defined with a parking requirement and therefore the applicant is assuming parking based on the retail requirement, which is one parking space per 150 square feet of usable floor area.
The proposed group fitness use would require one parking space per participant and instructor. The provided floor plans indicate up to 22 people in the space, including instructors.
The property has 156 spaces.
The applicant’s analysis indicated that, today, peak weekday use, around 3:00pm, is shy of 90 spaces. On Saturdays, fewer than 50 spots are in use at peak time of 11:30am.
The Commission considered whether the proposed use might exacerbate parking conditions on the site once fully occupied.
P&Z chair Margarita Alban pointed out the liquor store, Cos Cob Wine & Spirits, is still getting established and will likely increase customers over time, in turn relying more on parking than today.
“I’ve been keeping an eye on it. That’s my neck of the woods. I want that shopping center to do well,” Aban said. “We want to give everybody an opportunity to park all the clients.
Ms Biddle said there were provisions in leases that allow them to designate employee parking and they could encourage employees to park in the underground garage. “We can send out notices to have them park downstairs,” she said.
Also, Ms Biddle said her company would be willing to post signage alerting customers to the availability of underground parking.
Ms Kraus offered to direct her clients to park in the underground garage.
Ms Alban said, “I feel bad about doing that to you you because no other business has to steer their clients into the basement, and you don’t want to inconvenience your clients when you’re starting a new business.”
Alban said it was key to give all the businesses equal opportunity to succeed.
“The two new businesses would be most disadvantaged – I don’t think anyone is going to stop going to CVS right away,” she added.
The commission discussed the ‘Yoggi Bera phenomenon.’
Yogi Berra famously said, ‘No, I don’t go to that restaurant anymore. Nobody goes there. It’s too crowded.’
“How many times I’ve driven through that very parking lot and kept going. I come in on the Taylor (Drive) side and come out the other side because there’s no parking,” Alban said.
“We never want to see empty storefronts in town. I’m disturbed Fleishers is still empty. I want to see them fill up. It’s important to our vitality,” Alban said. “But it’s interesting to hear the constant comment in Greenwich that if you can’t park right in front of the business you’re going to, you don’t go there. You want to park right in front of the door.”
Alban noted that Hot Phiit’s peak demand hours will be different from the peak hours in the parking lot.
“Their peak demand should be fine because they’re only competing with CVS early in the morning,” she added. “We’re trying to spread out the parking demand so that everybody makes money that has a store there, and Ms Biddle has a successful shopping center.”
The commission approval, which was unanimous 5-0, said the applicant “shall consider reducing size and/or frequency of classes during high peak parking times.”
The application approved with conditions including the half hour gap between classes and encouragement of all day office tenants parking in the underground garage.
They conditioned that the applicant do three things.
First, the landlord was asked to work with all-day office tenants and residential tenants to use the underground garaged parking rather than surface parking.
Second, they are directed to have signage directing drivers to the underground garage.
Third, they directed the for the yoga studio to consider reducing the size or frequency of classes during peak parking periods.