St. Clair Shores City Council puts caveat on approval of 24-hour business for safety concerns

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published April 22, 2019

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The City Council approved a request for a 24-hour gym to operate at 24040 Harper Ave., but some members expressed concerns about the security of a hallway that will lead to the entrance of the business.

Deanna Paul, the owner of the Anytime Fitness that is hoping to open in the space that was formerly occupied by a Michigan Secretary of State branch, said that the company takes safety and security seriously. Members receive security necklaces that will summon 911 with just the touch of a button, and there are no fewer than 15 security cameras on the premises.

The building, however, has its entrance from the parking lot, which is located to the rear of the lot. In order to access Olga’s Kitchen restaurant or the Anytime Fitness, patrons enter a corridor through a door off the parking lot and then proceed to the door of whichever business they wish to enter.

While Anytime Fitness will only be accessible by key fob to members at that entrance off the corridor, council members said that having the exterior door open all night long could lead to security concerns in the corridor.

Councilwoman Candice Rusie said that she is happy to see some “vibrancy” returning to the building, but that, “I would be terrified to walk down that corridor by myself. Who knows who could be hiding there?

“There’s a lot of bad people out there,” she added, explaining that she feels gym members would essentially be “sitting … ducks” entering the corridor not knowing who else was in there.

Paul said that the company prides itself on its safety for members. She said that she will explore the idea of locking the entrance for the parking lot when the other businesses are closed and having members use key fobs to enter the corridor, as well as more lighting and potentially security cameras in the space.

“We want it very well lit, very welcoming,” she said.

Paul said that her business will be in addition to the Anytime Fitness already located at 30110 Harper Ave., north of 12 Mile Road.

“They are, to my knowledge, the busiest club owned by that owner. That gives me a lot of hope,” she said.

Councilman Chris Vitale said that he supports the idea of the business and thinks it will do well, but he doesn’t want the city and the Police Department to have to be in the position of being reactive if something were to happen to a patron.

A motion to approve the 24-hour facility was approved, contingent on plans to have key fob access from the outside of the building, as well as at the business’s door. City administrators will review the business’s security and entrance plan to make sure it allays the council’s concerns.

Paul said that she hopes to sign the lease on the building in four to six weeks, and that after permits are in place, it will likely take about eight weeks for the buildout.