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Roslindale to Domino's: Stay near the parkway

A neighborhood retail area that relies on foot traffic is no place for a pizza place that claims most of its business consists of deliveries, Roslindale Square residents and businesspeople told Domino's, which wants to move from a mini-mall off the West Roxbury Parkway to a storefront in Roslindale Square.

Close to 200 people packed a basement meeting room at the Roslindale Community Center tonight to oppose the proposed new location in the office building next to the library, across from Adams Park. Local businesspeople, residents and the city haven't spent 20 years turning Roslindale Village into today's electic collection of mostly locally owned shops and restaurants just to let a delivery business move in, they said.

But William Mohan, a Domino's consultant, said opponents were voicing their support for a Roslindale with vacant storefronts - he said three of the four retail spaces in the building have been vacant for 18 months - and that opponents were outnumbered by the 2,000 Roslindale residents he claimed order from Domino's every year.

Mohan said 90% of the current store's business is delivery and that he expected that to continue in the new location, which he said meant there would be little impact on traffic or pedestrian safety.

Residents pounced on that, saying the worst thing for a retail district built on foot traffic would be a storefront nobody visits. But some residents didn't buy that Domino's didn't want to increase its foot traffic - why else insist on moving up Washington Street, into the heart of Roslindale Square? And that, they said, raised the spectre of even worse traffic problems already caused by people dashing into the Subway shop in the same building from their illegally parked cars.

Roslindale Village Main Street and residents countered that they want to work with the building's owner to bring the sort of businesses that would work well in the square. Some residents pointed to the slow and careful approach taken by Stavros Frantzis, owner of buildings along Birch and Corinth streets, to bring boutiques and restaurants to the area.

The owners of the Roslindale House of Pizza and Romano's - the two pizza places closest to the proposed Domino's - were joined in their opposition by the owner of the Roslindale Hardware Store, who said he's been working for decades to help turn Roslindale Square into the diverse collection of locally owned stores it is today.

Domino's does not yet have a lease, but if it gets one, its next step would be a hearing before the Boston Licensing Board, which grants food-serving licenses.

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Comments

I'm guessing traffic is the bogeyman?

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First World Problems: having to go to a community meeting to keep a pizza joint patronized by low income folks and students out of your neighborhood.

It's absolutely amazing how many white people consider themselves to be experts when it comes to traffic and parking issues. Not to mention, since when did it become the neighborhood's job to decide if a business was economically feasible? This isn't communist Russia, people.

Also: Roslindale? Walkers? Are you kidding me? I can't remember the last time I saw someone walking. Everyone drives- the streets are jam-packed with bumper-to-bumper cars EVERYWHERE, even in the most remote neighborhoods.

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I certainly didn't go to the meeting to keep "low income folks and students" out of Roslindale. I have no idea if having a Domino's in Roslindale Square would be economically feasible, and it wouldn't surprise me one bit if it was.

I would prefer if we could get a local business in that space, though. That's partly because locally owned restaurants recirculate much more of their revenue in the community than chain restaurants do. And it's partly because I think that location is much better suited to a business that attracts pedestrian traffic than one whose business is almost entirely delivery. And, yes, I do like to walk places, and that's a big part of why I live in Roslindale.

One thing you're right about is that this isn't communist Russia. Domino's has the right to bring their business to Roslindale, and we have the right to tell them we're not interested. If they choose to move in, they're doing so knowing that they'll be making a pretty large group of residents unhappy, for a variety of reasons. Isn't it better that we be able to tell them that up front?

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First World Problems: maybe it is, we do after all, live in the so-called first world. Nobody cares about who patronizes Domino's -- it's a delivery business, none of the patrons are actually going to go there.

White People: Roslindale is 53% white, which means there are a whole lot of non-whites living here. It is one of the more diverse neighborhoods in Boston. And no, I doubt many at the meeting thought they were experts on parking or traffic, just experts on Roslindale.

Walkers: I'm guessing you don't spend much time anywhere other than American Legion Highway. Come down to the square some evening or weekend and you might be surprised -- people are walking all over the place, the word bustling might even be used to describe the pedestrian scene. I realize this isn't how all of Roslindale is, much of it is indeed more car oriented, but radiating out from the square about half a mile, you will find a different picture. As for many of the cars driving through the square, they are likely coming from somewhere else.

Last sentence: this bit you've written about cars "even in the most remote neighborhoods" says it all. Of course people drive in the remote areas. But they don't drive if they live near the proposed location for this Domino's. Driving is the business model for Domino's, it is not the business model for the businesses Along Poplar, South, Corinth, and parts of Washington St.

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Try coming through here on Saturday for the Farmers Market. And in the evenings plenty of people walk to all the restaurants. Or perhaps you should swing by when the Irving gets out to see all the middle school kids.

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It's absurd the extent to which these neighborhood groups go to block any and all businesses from entering the area. Some people just have nothing better to do all day than go to these meetings and complain. Why is this even an issue for public regulation? I understand that the city grants food-serving licenses, but as long as they meet basic safety and zoning requirements, why is it the government's job to weigh whether domino's is good enough to come into Roslindale Square?

There's a Domino's in the middle of Davis Square and Kendall Square, and both of those areas seem to be doing just fine.

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You're right that Domino's meets the basic zoning requirements, and I believe that the neighborhood groups acknowledge that there is very little that either RVMS or the government can do to actually block Domino's. In other words, this isn't "an issue for public regulation", it's more of an issue of public opinion. If RVMS can get 200 people to come to a meeting to describe why Domino's may not be a good fit for that space, how is it a bad thing for Domino's to hear that viewpoint?

As for RVMS's position, it's exactly what you'd expect, given their philosophy:

The Main Street Approach advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment, and the rebuilding of traditional commercial districts based on their unique assets: distinctive architecture, a pedestrian-friendly environment, personal service, local ownership, and a sense of community. Harnessing the efforts of local volunteers builds long-term success by fostering community involvement and commitment to a shared vision for the neighborhood.

In other words, they're not blocking "any and all businesses from entering the area", they're advocating for a particular type of business. They won't win every battle, but having their viewpoint represented is part of the free market, too. I hope that businesses continue to ask for public input, and I hope that the public continues to give businesses our opinion even when they don't ask.

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And I have no idea why it even exists, when there are so many local pizza places that deliver throughout this neighborhood.

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That's a bit of a stretch, don't you think when there are dozens of stores and restaurants already in Roslindale Square? I'm not generally very in favor of NIMBY type actions and agree that if zoning and licensing allow for a business, it should have the chance to set up shop. But I also believe in community input. Those of us who live in and around the square do so in part because we value being close to a walkable business district. If a proposed venture causes harm to the walkability of the district, then this represents a decline in the quality of what drew us to Roslindale in the first place. Domino's is already in Roslindale, in a very suitable location. The proposed location is far less suitable. I'd like to at least know why they want to move, as I doubt very much the rent in the new location is less than in the current.

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Let Dominos go in. Dominos is not a place where I would eat all the time, but for a large family (like mine), it is a great place to feed everyone for around $30.

Of course Romanos and the House of Pizza aren't going to want them to go in, but who cares. Why should families have to pay more just because Rozzie wants to be all fancy pants like Chestnut Hill?

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The owners of those two places actually got some of the biggest applause of the night (I admit it - after the meeting, I got some huaraches for dinner at Romano's).

You really should visit them - they wouldn't be a good fit at all for Chestnut Hill or Wellesley. In fact, most of Roslindale Square wouldn't, except maybe for the boutiques and the cheese shop on Birch Street. That's part of its charm - it's been transformed over the past two decades into a reasonably successful neighborhood center that reflects the surrounding community, rather than trying to be something it's not.

One of the things that struck me last night was how most people weren't opposed to Domino's per se (there was one enviro-type who started talking about global warming), just in that specific location - maybe a mile and a half from where they are now. A lot of people have invested a lot of time (and in the case of storeowners, money) making Roslindale Square what it is today. I can understand why they'd care so much about a single storefront.

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And I obviously didn't go to the meeting so I cannot comment on the pro/con dominos vibe that was going on there.

But many of them (Birch St, Sophia's, Delfino's,) would fit right into Wellesley or Newton Center (nothing wrong with either of those places by the way).

I just don't think it's right to say "we like this place (Dominos), but we want to mold our neighborhood into another type of place, so we are saying we just don't want that place around our new place"

Domino's doesn't need to go to Wellesley Ctr or Newton Ctr because they can do the same business further away for 1/4 of the rent. Not Dominos fault that they can afford Rozzie Square.

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Rozzie is fancy pants now? Hmmm, I didn't get the memo. I don't want the chain there either. Where will all the Domino's delivery cars going to be? Blocking Washington street - that is where.

Also, why not get pizza or taco's from Romano's for your large family? Not only are their prices super reasonable you would be supporting a LOCALLY owned business whose food is far superior to that of the already mega rich Domino's.

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That's why.

I don't know about you, but I get tired of the same pizza over and over again. I like to mix it up and try different places.

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Then go to the Pleasant...another locally owned, very reasonably priced place that the kids will love and give you yet another choice for your pizza consumption.

Never mind the fact that Domino's pizza stinks! Teach your kids about good pizza :)

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And Dominos maybe 3 or 4 times. I know the Pleasant is great, I'm just saying Dominos isn't bad every once in a while.

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Where will all the Domino's delivery cars going to be? Blocking Washington street - that is where.

You mean like the 'local' Chinese take-out?

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It’s sad to hear that you feed your family with that crap. With the obesity epidemic at an all time high, as well as diabetes, one would question your choices. Instead, why not hit the farmers market on Saturday and bring your family, teach them how to shop for healthy food options, then go home as a family and prepare and cook the food together. You’re obviously looking for a quick and cheap fix which is why you want Dominoes there and couldn’t care less for the aesthetics of our great ‘Village’.

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My family is healthy enough. And your "great village" was my village before you realized you couldn't afford to buy in Brookline or Newton and had to move there.

Hmmm, making generalizations about posters is fun and easy!

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If anything is 'fancy' it's buying cheap factory pizza from a corporation with slick marketing.

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and... the licensing board just might give it to them whether the community is against it or not. A majority of Mission Hill residents voted against another Dunkin Donuts because it would put a dent in our family owned, small business coffee shops that already exist within 1 block of this proposed DD's. (Butterfly Cafe and Mikes Donuts). This didn't make a difference in the decision by the City Licensing Board and they were granted a license. The owners of DD's secured a petition in favor of opening a 2nd DD's in Mission Hill. That petition was signed mostly from people NOT living in the neighborhood. We also supposedly had the backing of our City Councilman, Mike Ross.
So, good luck with that.

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theres more solidarity in rozzie than in mission hill, that alone would prevent such ploys.

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Good luck to the neighbors supporting local independent businesses! The hometown I grew up in caved into the chains and now there are more big name banks, Dunkin' Donuts and chain pharmacies then the town can support which has resulted in empty storefronts and plazas that are virtually abandoned. Residents have less options than they did before the independent shops were muscled out by the corporate chains and have to drive to other towns to get what was once locally available. Too bad.

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Perhaps you missed the above posts, or maybe you just haven't visited Rozi. The people in the Rozi square neighborhood do support local businesses - actively. This is where Boston's Main Streets program was launched. We've got streets filled with (mostly locally) owned businesses, one of the best farmers markets in the city, a yearly parade and a park thats in use year-round for concerts and holiday celebrations.

And contrary to some of posters' previous statements, the folks who show up at Rozi community meetings aren't generally do-gooders or buttinskis - they're just regular Roslindalers - mostly middle aged family folks, white and blue collar, a bit more culturally/racially diverse than most Boston neighborhoods - who are giving up an evening to discuss something we think is important. We're not transitional, we're not hung up on gentrification (or lack of it), we're not over-entitled. We do want a neighborhood that is safe and sutainable and satisfying to live in.

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I was voicing support for the neighbors supporting local businesses. You misread my post.

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Charges of NIMBYism get thrown around now almost as much as actual NIMBYism. It is really not being a NIMBY to express an opposition to a national fast food chain moving into a vibrant business area overwhelmingly populated by small, local stores. In particular, a lot of the residents can easily recall not too long ago when Roslindale Square was not a desirable place to be. Its resurgence is in large part due to these local businesses. But regardless, those are certainly legitimate points and not just reactionary.

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I'd rather see a CVS go in there or some drug store that is open past 5pm that is easy to walk to. Or maybe Sullivan's should consider dropping some prices and having more convenient hours for working people and not just the elderly. I know there is one up the street by the Domino's but it's not really that walkable from the square.

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The only gripe I have with Sullivan's is the hours. I find the service quality far better than any CVS I've gone to, but unfortunately, they close to early.

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The fact is that most of the businesses in Roslindale are not locally owned. This is not a bad thing.

But there are more than a dozen empty storefronts in tiny Roslindale Square. So why does Main Streets want to be picky about a Dominos Pizza coming here? No one else seems to want to come here.

Why didn't they complain about Family Dollar (headquarters in North Carolina) or Dunkin Donuts (headquarters in Canton)? The owner of Sullivan's Pharmacy lives in Westwood, is that considered local?

This anti-Dominos campaign seems a lot like the anti-Brooks Pharmacy campaign a few years ago, when Main Streets ignored local petitions and waged an all out fight to protect their own board member Greg Laham and his pharmaceutical monopoly (Sullivan's). Over a hundred people signed that petition!

Main Streets needs to stop being so unfriendly to businesses who want to come here! This is not in their mission, to wage campaigns against businesses coming here; their mission is to foster a vibrant business district! And Roslindale Square is a struggling district at best.

Dominos should be able to come here without being hassled by Roslindale Bully Main Streets!

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