The parlors, operating as “spas,” are located at 97-16, 100-35 and 104-14 Metropolitan Avenue. There are also at least two other possible “spas” in the neighborhood.
Deputy Inspector Judith Harrison first heard complaints regarding the parlors in late December. The first parlor brought to her attention was Harmony Spa located at 104-14 Metropolitan Avenue.
After passing along the information to the Organized Crime Control Bureau, there was an arrest for prostitution made at the parlor on January 15. They are still investigating the three spas in operation.
Following the arrest, the parlor was deemed a nuisance, which allowed the city to shut it down for illegal purposes. Currently, however, the business has an “open" sign.
Unlike the actions in the neighboring 104th Precinct, which has also seen multiple massage parlors in the area, Harrison will not place uniformed officer in front of the parlors in attempt to close the businesses.
“Other commands have these issues and are placing a uniformed member of service to stand right in front of these places, but I’m not going to do that,” Harrison said. “Not because I don’t care or I don’t want to do anything, but because if there are undercovers going there and doing what they’re doing, I can’t have a uniformed member of service comprise that investigation.
“Although it may look on the surface like nothing is being done, I assure you something is being done,” she added.
Residents in the area have made numerous complaints regarding the parlors as their presence has increased along Metropolitan Avenue. At a recent Community Board 6 meeting, resident J.P. Freeley claimed that the suspicious looking businesses didn’t expose their real intentions until one researched them.
"If you happen to walk by any of these establishments, all you will see is an open sign and a phone number,” Freeley said."But if you happen to take that phone number and stick it into Google you will get the real advertising that they are doing to all of their patrons.”
Barbara Stuchinski, president of the Forest Hills Civic Association, wrote in a statement that the organization strongly opposed allowing such an establishment "unless it is licensed and registered as a health facility.”
Even then, Stuchiniski requested that either the City Council or state legislators impose restrictions under existing or new laws.
"We cannot allow the quality of life of our residents and the welfare of our children to be compromised by improper types of business to locate in our communities without oversight,” Stuchiniski stated.
Recently, Assemblyman Mike Miller and State Senator Joseph Addabbo introduced legislation that would stop the operation of illegal parlors.
The legislation includes forcing landlords to verify the parlor’s license before renting space, requiring landlords to evict any parlor that has been proven to promote prostitution or operate without a license, as well as requiring parlors to clear the view into its lobby from the sidewalk.