Eyesore of an abandoned West Roxbury gas station could be replaced with 20 residential units

Architect's rendering.

The new owner of a long vacant gas station on the triangle where Belgrade Avenue, Beech Street and West Roxbury Parkway come together has filed plans with the BRA for a four-story, 20-unit residential building.

John Douros - who worked at the gas station as a teenager - had originally filed plans for a five-story building that neighbors decried as too big.

All of the units will have two bedrooms; three will be marketed as affordable. The filing does not specify whether the building will consist of apartments or condos.

The project will include 20 parking spaces, on a site within walking distance of two stations on the Needham Line.

In his BRA filing, Douros's architect said the new building would eliminate a neighborhood eyesore:

Over the years there has been considerable frustration over the condition and the future of the site. This project will finally bring an end to that frustration.

The new building will be an esthetically pleasing site on an area that is
considered to be the gateway to the West Roxbury neighborhood. In addition to
the proposed building, Mr. Douros has also been in preliminary discussions with
the Department of Conservation and Recreation about the possibility of adopting and maintain the adjacent grass area. This property is owned by the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts and could benefit from some improvements
that could be enjoyed by all in the neighborhood.

The new residential building will also prove to be a tremendous asset to the
West Roxbury businesses. Located within walking distance to Centre Street, the
new residents will provide an additional base for customers to the growing
business district in the area.

The proposal will also include pedestrian connectivity enhancements from the
site to Beech Street and Belgrade Avenue. The proposal will include a widened
sidewalk and additional crosswalk that will safely guide pedestrians across the
street.

400 Belgrade Ave. small-project review application (16.1M PDF).

L Street could get an Italian restaurant that serves alcohol after all

Earlier this year, the Boston Licensing Board didn't grant a liquor license to developer Michael Norton's proposed Italian restaurant at L Street and Broadway in South Boston (and then rejected a Starbucks there).

Tomorrow, though, the board considers a request from the owner of Mirisola's, 200 L St., to serve beer and wine with his Italian food.

Guy Mirisola's attorney, Richard Lane, told the board at a hearing this morning that Mirisola's is just the sort of place the board should be granting a license to: A well established, locally owned restaurant that needs a little help - in the form of a beer-and-wine license - to keep up with the chains devouring South Boston.

"This is exactly the kind of guy you want to keep in business," a man who runs "the Italian version of Cheers," with food cooked by his relatives, who were born in Sicily, he said.

John Allison, the mayor's liaison to South Boston, said the mayor strongly supported the request. "There's a short of businesses serving what he is serving in the area," he said. Councilors Bill Linehan, Michael Flaherty and Annissa Essaibi-George also supported the bid.

Councilors: It's past time to let high-school kids sleep in

City Councilors want Boston to join the ranks of communities pushing back high-school start times to give sleep-deprived students a better jump on the day.

The council unanimously approved holding a hearing on the idea of starting high school as late as 8:30 a.m. Nearly half the city's high schools currently start at 7:20 or 7:30 a.m., councilors said.

At-large Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George, a former teach at East Boston High School, says giving kids even just an extra hour of shuteye could reduce tardiness, absenteeism and even obesity and depression.

Councilor Matt O'Malley (West Roxbury, Jamaica Plain), who sponsored the hearing request with Essaibi-George, said that when Nauset High School on the Cape pushed its starting time back "tardiness fell and grades rose, almost immediately." He said medical studies have shown teens need nine hours of sleep a night - but he doubted any in Boston get anywhere near that much.

Councilor Tito Jackson (Roxbury), chairman of the council's education committee, added there's a uniquely Boston reason to start school later: Now that almost all secondary students have to find their own way to school, they need more time because "the MBTA, it sometimes breaks down."

Restaurant economics in Boston: Why a Roslindale restaurant is selling its beer and wine license

Seven Star Street Bistro on Belgrade Avenue might seem like the exact sort of place the creation of "neighborhood" liquor licenses in Boston was meant for - a small, entrepreneurial effort by a young chef in an outer neighborhood.

But the legislation that created the new licenses limited them to Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester - and the city's "main street" districts. Roslindale has one of those districts, but Seven Star is several blocks outside its borders and so ineligible for one of the new licenses.

Owner Chris Lin went into the open market to buy one of the older, non-restricted ones - from Estragon, an established "South End" restaurant that is just inside the city's boundaries of Roxbury, which let it sell its beer and wine license and get an all-alcohol "neighborhood" license.

Tomorrow, the Boston Licensing Board decides whether to let Lin sell his beer-and-wine license to a proposed veggie restaurant on Boylston Street in the Back Bay. In response to a query about the proposed sale, Lin writes:

It was a huge financial commitment for us to "buy" the license in the first place, when we started construction, I was really hoping we would be able to get a free non-transferable license. When that was not possible due to funny zoning, kind of thought we would be at a major disadvantage by not having one and decided to take the plunge and buy one. After a year and a half of waiting for construction and licensing to pass in order to get dining room open it really put us in a hole, and we need that capital back. We also cannot afford to own a commodity that will slowly devalue over time with free licenses being slowly added. I believe we will apply for an upcoming liquor license if there are free ones available in the fall for "all city" although I am not confident in the process from past experience and would settle for byob when that passes. It's been a rough year for us, and the system is really not designed to help small restaurants.

New York veggie chain vows Bostonians will eat their vegetables - and like it

The Boston Licensing Board decides tomorrow whether to give a food-serving license to Digg Inn, a proposed new feed station for Boston's growing herd of locavore veggie grazers, at 557 Boylston St., between Dartmouth and Clarendon.

"Hopefully, this will be the first of many," Digg Inn attorney Andrew Upton told the board at a hearing this morning. "They want healthy, they want quick and they want sustainable," Upton said of today's fast-paced Boston diners.

The board's vote could mean bad news, however, for Roslindale omnivores who like a beer with their Chinese food - Digg Inn is also seeking permission to buy the beer and wine license Seven Star Street Bistro on Belgrade Avenue acquired only a year ago. The good news for fans of the Roslindale restaurant, however, is that Seven Star is staying open (see separate story on Seven Star).

At a hearing today, Digg Inn promised "sustainable" vegetables and beers from local producers, served from a long table from which diners would pick their meals and beverages either to go or to chew on in the restaurant or at its outdoor patio.

"We're looking to democratize vegetables," and make them so appealing that people "will want to eat them, as opposed to looking at them as a burden," restaurant manager Andrew Jacobson said.

Jacobson and Upton acknowledged the concept is similar to that of the Sweetgreen restaurants that have sprouted in Boston of late. But, Upton said, Sweetgreen "is not quite as hearty, not quite as sit down."

Denizens of half-pint condos in the Leather District win right to buy liquor in bottles to match

The Boston Licensing Board recently gave Sagarino's, 106 South St., the right to sell liquor in pint and half-pint bottles, after the store argued customers living in tiny units want the freedom to buy smaller liquor bottles to match their smaller storage space.

The store's argument won out over opposition from Mayor Walsh, who has continued Tom Menino's policy of opposing any expansion in the sale of liquor in smaller bottles. The store's attorney argued its clientele is pretty much exclusively people living in fancy nearby buildings, not the sort of people who would quickly suck down the bottles and then strew them about the street.

The board did continue its prohibition on the sale of even smaller nips at Sagarino's.

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