Rep. Jay Livingstone and City Councilor Kenzie Bok will co-host a virtual meeting to discuss a proposed smoke shop that has signed a 10-year lease to occupy the ground-level storefront at 138 Charles St. on Monday, March 22, at 5 p.m.
Bluemoon Smoke Shop, which has about a dozen other locations around Greater Boston, has entered into a lease for the retail space that was previously home to Danish Country & Modern, which took effect this month and lasts through March of 2031, said Malik Hayat, who identified himself as one of the company’s owners. But Bluemoon won’t open there for “another two or three months,” Hayat added, as the space is currently being renovated.
The store will only sell smoking and vaping accessories, said Hayat, who added that Bluemoon has no stake in the cannabis industry, either medical or recreational, anywhere in the U.S., nor do they have any plans to sell cannabis on Charles Street or at any of their locations in the future.
“It will be a very quiet and clean addition to the neighborhood,” Hayat said of the Charles Street location. “We’re going to keep it upscale, and no one is going to be bothered because of us.”
The store’s proposed hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week, said Hayat, and would be staffed by an on-site manager and one other employee.
“A very limited number of people will be able to come into the store at a time,” said Hayat, who added that Bluemoon also maintains a strict policy of only allowing people of legal age to enter its establishments.
But despite Hayat’s assurances, Rep. Livingstone, like many of his constituents, remains wary of the proposed operation.
“I heard from constituents who were extremely concerned about the enterprise on Charles Street, particularly since it’s in close proximity to a school and residences with families,” Rep. Livingstone said. “I’m disappointed by the lack of outreach by the owners to the community. I’m holding a hearing with Councilor Bok so we could hear what others were thinking in the community and brainstorm, if people are as strongly opposed to it as I think they are, to see if there’s any way to stop this from proceeding.”
The current conundrum is somewhat reminiscent of what transpired in 2012, said Rep. Livingstone, when Capitol One announced its plans to open a new bank branch on Charles Street, and which eventually paved the way for himself and former District 8 City Councilor Josh Zakim to create an overlay district for conditional uses.
“The overlay district might need to be updated now,” he added.
Councilor Bok wrote: “We’ve heard a lot of concern from residents and parents with children at the nearby schools, which is why Jay and I are hosting our Monday meeting. There is evidence that smoking rates stopped declining during the pandemic for the first time in decades, so I think we need to be very careful not to lose ground in the public health fight against tobacco. I also think this situation really underscores the need for our whole community — neighbors, elected officials, commercial property owners, and the Beacon Hill Civic and Business Associations — to come together to actively pursue businesses to fill the vacancies on Charles and Cambridge Streets, so that our local shopping district can come back as strong as possible and still serve the needs of the neighborhood.”
To attend the March 22 meeting on Blue Moon Smoke Shop’s proposed 138 Charles St. location, contact Sarah Mills in Rep. Livingstone’s office at [email protected], or Kennedy Avery in Councilor Bok’s office at [email protected].