By Mark Hallum
The space occupied by Bell Plaza Sports Club will be reoccupied following the gym’s sudden closure in late June.
Renzo Gracie Bayside, a new state-of-the-art Brazilian jiu-jitsu facility opening up at 45-58 Bell Blvd., will be opening in May, according to owner Doug Pelinkovic. Renovations are currently underway on the interior of the location to better suit the space for classes.
On Jan. 4 the business posted to Facebook: “6000 square feet of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu heaven, right in the heart of Bayside! We are getting closer to the Grand Opening. Are you excited yet?”
The Renzo Gracie Academy affiliate locations teach Brazilian jiu-jitsu throughout the city where owner Doug Pelinkovic has studied the martial art for 16 years. He currently owns a Gracie affiliate facility in the Bronx.
Pelinkovic decided to open his new facility in Bayside after being introduced to the area by another martial arts instructor who will be leading classes at the storefront on Bell Boulevard.
“I like the area, I like the feel of it,” Pelinkovic said. “I think it’s going to do very well.”
Bell Plaza shocked members when it closed with only two days notice June 28. Residents showed up at the facility to find doors locked with a sign informing them that 24 Hour Fitness at 245-24 Horace Harding Expressway in Little Neck would be honoring their rates.
The gym had been a neighborhood staple for over 30 years.
“While Bell Plaza has been a special ‘community’ club for over 30 years, we’re confident that you will find yourself at home at 24 Hour Fitness and be able to achieve whatever fitness goals you set for yourself,” the notification of closure posted on the door said. “They are focused on their members, and with cutting edge programming, they can keep you engaged and give you many more options than we were able to offer. It has been a pleasure to have served you, and we humbly thank you for your patronage.”
A spokesman for City Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) said the notice came two days prior to closing because the lease on the three-story space rented by Bell Plaza was abruptly canceled. Movers were soon at the location rolling treadmills down ramps and into trucks to be taken away.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall