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"The SoHo thing' contained

Plans to transform part of a defunct gym into a place that serves liquor _ and perhaps expands SoHo westward _ are on hold.

The City Council was scheduled to vote last week on a wet zoning application for 2511 W Swann Ave., the site of the former Metroflex gym, which closed last April.

But property owners Alan Johnson and Greg Arbutine withdrew the application before the council discussed it.

For now, neighbors are relieved.

Besides noise, traffic and illegally parked cars, they fear a new bar or restaurant on Swann will open the door for similar venues _ the kind now blossoming on Howard Avenue, two blocks to the east.

"The SoHo thing needs to stay on SoHo," said Warren Bourgeois, a member of the Parkland Estates Neighborhood Association, which opposed the zoning along with the St. John Greek Orthodox Church.

Neither the property owners nor their representative, Steve Michelini, could be reached for comment. The applicants did not tell the city why they were pulling the application, but at a council meeting earlier this month Parkland Estates residents signaled their opposition, Bourgeois said.

The application did not name a tenant.

After Metroflex closed last year, Johnson and Arbutine began converting the 4,500-square-foot building into several units and said they hoped to attract retail and office clients.

Their wet zoning request can be refiled, but city rules say they must wait six months.

_ Ron Matus can be reached at 226-3405 or matussptimes.com.

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