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Does Tosa have too many salon- and spa-style businesses?

City field two new requests for massage therapy locations

Nov. 8, 2011

A massage therapist wants to open a studio in East Tosa, and that leads at least one resident to question whether too many spa and salon establishments line North Avenue.

Ramona Beyer asked the Plan Commission yesterday for permission to operate Healthy Living Massage in a space at 7018 W. North Ave.

Commissioners didn't have a problem with a massage business in the commercial district and unanimously recommended approval. The request goes to the Community Development Committee tonight.

However, another entrepreneur who is in the process of opening a massage therapy establishment only a few doors down said she wouldn't have chosen her location if she knew a similar business would move in so nearby.

East Tosa resident Martin Castro said he doesn't understand why so many hair and nail salons and massage businesses set up shop on North Avenue.

"I just don't see the sense of everyone chasing the same dollar," he said.

However, a neighbor, Paul Esser, said competition breeds good business. Restaurants tend to group in the same area and no one has a problem with that, he said.

The city doesn't regulate the number of salon and spa businesses, Mayor Jill Didier said.

"However, we do hope through our efforts to have a diverse business community," she said. The commission looks at whether the business meets the zoning requirements to fit in a specific area, she added.

When a consultant performed a market study of the East Tosa commercial district as a prelude to a master plan for the corridor, he pointed out the heavy focus on beauty and personal services. He had suggested a better mix of businesses would help move the district forward.

A business specialist, which is in the proposed city budget for 2012, would help work with small businesses and the neighborhood districts to help them find the best locations, Didier said.

That being said, the Plan Commission fielded a second request for a massage therapy business yesterday. Chandra Adams wants to move her Basali Derma Institute out of its location at 63rd Street and North Avenue to the Village.

She received the commission's unanimous support to operate from office space in Village Faire, 1417 Wauwatosa Ave. The building is anchored by Starbucks.

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