The west side of Sierra Madre's business district will soon see a martial arts studio that features Hapkido, Qi Gong, self defense and Cross Core classes.
The Planning Commission Thursday unanimously approved a Conditional Use Permit for applicant Gary Gapezzani and his business partner Bill Darlas to open the new studio at 303 W. Sierra Madre Blvd.
There was some concern over whether there would be enough parking to accomodate students and staff. There are currently three designated parking spaces for the studio in the back of the building.
However, Gapezzani said that he has worked out a deal with neighboring - students will be able to use the restaurant's parking lot until 4 p.m. every day (when the cafe opens). The owner of has also agreed to let studio patrons use their parking spaces after 6 p.m. That, combined with 27 nearby street parking spaces on Sierra Madre Blvd. and N. Lima St., lead the Planning Commission to believe that parking would be manageable.
Residents who spoke at the meeting were mostly in favor of the new business, though some residents of Lima St., which is just around the corner from the space, expressed concerns about the increased traffic and cars taking up parking that's used by residents.
Commission members expressed a desire to liven up the western business district in Sierra Madre. Unlike lively Kersting Ct., this side of the business district is rather "dead," as Commission member Thomas Pendlebury put it.
Commission member John Vandevelde said that retail locations often have a hard time keeping afloat in Sierra Madre due to the limited foot traffic. However, he thought a martial arts studio would be a different story. "This being more a service or a school is such a great fit for the Boulevard," he said. "Anything to liven up our downtown would be welcome."
Gapezzani is a fourth level black belt while Darlas is a sixth degree black belt. They, along with colleague Robert Gilliam, will serve as instructors. Adult and senior classes will be held Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. while kid and teen classes will run from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays will be reserved for semi-private lessons, and classes will also be held Saturday mornings.
Classes will accomodate between 12 and 15 students at a time with an 8-1 student ratio.
The studio will have a 1,500 square foot matted area for classes. The reception area will feature seating and a homework area for kids.
The 3,300 sq foot space was formerly occupied by Highlander Jr. Market and Liquor.