As opposition grows, zoning board delays hearing on proposed expansion of Russian restaurant in Allston

The Zoning Board of Appeals agreed to defer a hearing until May 7 on a proposal by the Russian Benevolent Society to turn its Linden Street facility into a 450-seat restaurant with a 90-seat patio and entertainment.

The move lets the owners of what is now a for-profit concern just off Cambridge Street meet with the Allston Civic Association and local police. In recent days, nearby residents have begun organizing against the proposed expansion in what started out as a small social group for Russian emigres that was closed most of the time into a seven-day restaurant. Opponents point to issues of potential noise and inebriated patrons late at night.

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"Noise and inebriated patrons"

These opponents do realize where this is, right?

Disclaimer: While I agree that everyone has the right to quiet sleep at night and shouldn't have to dodge drunkards and vomit while walking home, this part of Allston has bigger problems in that regard than a Russian Restaurant.

Line in the sand

Yes, the opponents are aware of where it is, because they live in the immediate neighborhood. And yes, that part of Allston has many more problems than that. But that doesn't mean that the conversion of a Russian restaurant with limited hours/days of operation to a nightclub with live entertainment is going to be welcomed in what is primarily a residential area.

There is already a problem with violence at Crystal Restaurant, where a man was beaten up by a large group, badly enough to cause a concussion, just a couple of weeks ago. There are already problems with traffic from the parking lot for that building, particularly with drivers who drive the wrong way down a one-way block. There is certainly already a problem with drunks roaming the streets of the neighborhood, causing disturbances (there were guys shouting in the street at 4:00 AM this past Saturday.) The neighbors don't really need any more of these kinds of problems.

Is this the same location as

Is this the same location as the banya? I haven't been there in years but that was sort of an unofficial Russian benevolent association, if by "benevolent" you mean "an astounding display of silicon breasts."

Big change

I am usually pretty pro-business, but I am concerned about this proposal. Blight sucks, and something does have to go into that building/collection of buildings. That said, that's a really big place they want to add, 450 seats, plus a 90 person patio, and entertainment? It is on the railyard, but it also backs onto homes on Pratt Street, and has an apartment complex (which is a mess) across the street. It's a hard neighborhood to argue for the potential of noise complaints, but I hope their site plan allows for some noise buffers (trees, maybe) between their outdoor patio, and the homes on Linden.

The parking lot there is pretty big, but it doesn't seem big enough for that large a restaurant (Is there anything that big in the area, to get an idea of scale?). At the very least, they will have to do something about regulating traffic in and out of that lot, to minimize folks driving the wrong way down Linden.

Sounds like it's not as big

Sounds like it's not as big an expansion as I thought, though it's still pretty big. (I thought Crystal was a lot smaller, less than 100 seats). From their website it looks like they want to do wedding/banquet hall business, but I am not sure if that is better or not for drunken shenanigans.

They intend to bulldoze the

They intend to bulldoze the two abutting houses and combine the properties into an extended parking lot for the restaurant. Even while competition for available housing in the area intensifies. The irony of having this happen at the doorstep of the Allston CDC boggles the mind...

There are comparable size businesses on Harvard and Brighton. Tavern and Sunset are both quite large, and the combination of all the venues in Allston Village dwarfs this place on Linden Street. None of them require parking lots as big as this. Probably because they are oriented towards attracting locals. This Russian club seems to want to be an island unto itself.

I'm sure the noise can be dealt with, after all it abuts the railroad tracks and the Cambridge Street bridge. I don't see what the city gains from having yet more housing converted to a parking lot; one which seems bound to discharge hundreds of likely drunk drivers onto the streets at night.

Zone?

Is it me or is all of this occurring in an office building?
I don't know what the zoning on that building is but if it looks like an office building then it probably is zoned to be nothing more than an office building. That means any restaurant, private club, sauna, etc etc in the building is probably very wrong.

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