The proprietor of DeLuca’s Market pledged to open his shuttered store again as two other business-owners announced their plans to leave the neighborhood at the Joint Charles Street Committee meeting Wednesday.
“People don’t believe it’s going to open again,” said Virgil Aiello, owner of DeLuca’s, which has remained closed since falling prey to a four-alarm fire on July 8, 2010. “It’s going to open again is all I can say, whether people like it or not.”
Before a standing-room crowd at the Mt. Vernon Street Firehouse, Aiello outlined plans for the renovated store, including the addition of a sitting space with tables and chairs where patrons can consume food and drink purchased on site, as well as new storage space located behind the adjacent Charles Street Cleaners at 17 Charles St. (Aiello said he has scrapped a controversial plan to build an apartment above this proposed storage area).
Additionally, Aiello intends to create more storage space by excavating below the only portion of the store’s ground level that doesn’t already have basement beneath it. Aiello attributes this structural condition to the fact that the building was built piecemeal.
“There are potential zoning questions that might be involved…but there’s no criticism of me opening the store,” Aiello said of the city’s response to his current proposal.
Aiello also agreed to honor some of the terms that neighbors critical of the project had requested, although he didn’t specify what those conditions are.
In contrast, Judith Dowling, owner of Judith Dowling Asian Art at 133 Charles St., said she would soon close her store after 17 years at the location, citing light foot traffic on Charles Street among the reasons for her departure.
Also, after operating the Charles Street Inn at 94 Charles St. for the past 12 years, co-owner Louise Venden said she and her business partner intend to put the building up for sale.
Chief among their reasons, Venden said, is the scarcity of available parking on and around Charles Street.
“The parking issue is enormous for [business owners] who are trying to reach beyond the neighborhood,” Venden said. “Even though we’re in a strong neighborhood…I think you have to work hard to make it work on this street.”