More than two and a half years after the Charles Street landmark fell prey to a four-alarm fire, DeLuca’s Market has again failed to win the support of the Beacon Hill Civic Association (BHCA) Zoning and Licensing Committee with its latest plans.
The committee voted last Tuesday to oppose granting the zoning relief necessary to outfit an already excavated portion of the basement with an ADA-compliant elevator, ramp and bathroom, as well as to oppose issuing a permit to allow indoor seating for up to 20 patrons at five tables on the first floor. (Committee co-chair Russ Gaudreau refused to consider another proposal from DeLuca’s proprietor Virgil Aiello to store a freezer on the first floor of the market, since the item hadn’t previously appeared on the agenda).
Thomas Hopkins, a Myrtle Street resident and director of the Massachusetts Architectural Access Board, said the state has a “standing decision” on a different set of plans for the market’s proposed ADA-accessibility provisions, adding he had not seen the most recent renderings until one day before last week’s Zoning and Licensing Committee meeting.
“We too have been subjected to last-minute changes,” Hopkins said. “This has been a moving target for the Commonwealth that’s proven very difficult…but we’re willing to give [Aiello] another bite at the apple to show us his plans.”
Hopkins said the Architectural Access Board is scheduled to review the matter at its April hearing.
John Bowman, chairman of buildings and grounds for King’s Chapel, said DeLuca’s has continually violated a 1947 agreement prohibiting the storage of trash and vehicles in an approximately 10-foot-wide private passageway that runs behind the market and also abuts the church grounds.
“There continue to be vehicles parked in the passageway, including in front of the emergency exit for the Sunday school,” Bowman said. “You can not park a vehicle there without encroaching on our property.”
Aiello pledged to work with King’s Chapel to reach an amicable solution regarding the passageway, and he agreed to store trash inside the market until immediately before pickup. (Aiello had previously committed to honor a “good neighbor” agreement with the Civic Association that addressed the passageway, trash maintenance and other ongoing concerns).
Beacon Street resident Ben Starr, meanwhile, expressed frustration with Aiello’s slow progress in reopening the business, as well as his seeming disregard for the neighborhood.
“You’ve held that block hostage for months,” Starr said. “Why should the neighborhood grant you the opportunity to rebuild after the way you’ve treated [residents]?”
In contrast, Aiello’s attorney Peter Antell said his client has encountered many unforeseen and uncontrollable obstacles in his effort to reopen the market.
“I’ve watched Mr. Aiello dig himself out of this fire for the last several years, and I’m disturbed it’s taken so long,” Antell said.
The July 9, 2010, blaze caused an estimated $1 million in damages and was reportedly the result of a short circuit in the basement electrical system, Boston Fire Department officials said.
In December 2011, the Zoning and Licensing Committee voted to oppose granting DeLuca’s a license that would have allowed the market to add 20 indoor seats for customers and additional permits until Aiello could reach a comprehensive “good neighbor” agreement with the Civic Association and neighbors.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled to review Aiello’s variance request at City Hall during its 9:30 a.m. session on Tuesday, Feb. 12, committee co-chair Gaudreau. said