Thursday, January 13, 2011
From Health Club to Brew Pub?
The long shot attempt by exuberant former members to revive The Leading Edge--aka Gold's Gym--has already sputtered like an endurance athlete hitting the wall; now a game ending scenario looms with the Zoning Board of Appeals "Special Permit" hearing next month as Amherst Brewing Company, a downtown icon, seeks permission to move into the cavernous University Drive location, a snowball's throw from Umass.
The thriving brew pub opened in Amherst center in 1997 as an anchor tenant in the former First National Bank building, just one of Barry Roberts many successful downtown assets, and they have expanded three times since.
In 1998 founder John Korpita made national news by winning a $3,713 lawsuit for damages brought against an underage patron using a fake ID. Mr. Korpita was also one of only two taverns in town to stay out of the 1999 'Smoking Ban in Bars War' when Amherst lead the way in that public health initiative bitterly opposed by a rowdy gang of barowners.
Gold's Gym opened in 2003, jettisoned the franchise name two years ago in favor of The Leading Edge and then finally expired last October. Interestingly in 2002, a year before they originally opened, the Zoning Board of Appeals turned down a 'Special Permit' request for a restaurant/bar in that location due to neighbors concerns about "noise and crowding."
Original founder and now former owner Peter Earle was intercepted by the Amherst Police on Christmas Day attempting to remove tons of exercise equipment (last second Christmas shopping?)
According to Amherst police narrative:
I spoke with Joanne Delong who said the equipment is leased and can not be removed. Peter Earle and his partner have taken approximately 8 loads. Earle was advised that unless he can provide paperwork stating the items are his, nothing else will be moved. The Penske rental truck was observed with multiple weight stands, and loaded with weights in the truck. The truck was secured overnight. Earle will return in the A.M. and place that equipment back inside until proper documentation is retrieved. Peter Earle was also advised he may face criminal charges if he knowingly removed the property illegally.
This clip is actually from the recent January 10 Select Board meeting. Never hurts to have Princess Stephanie as a reference (shown here acting as Liquor Commissioner approving a new ABC stockholder). And these days the ZBA is a tad less cowering to noisy NIMBYs.