Residents are Hesitant to Welcome New Liquor Store to Audubon Circle

A proposed liquor store slated for 842 Beacon St., which once housed the Superb Bicycle shop in the Audubon Circle neighborhood, has local residents concerned.

During an abutters meeting held outside the store that will be called Shippy’s Wine and Spirits on Wednesday, May 31, people voiced their thoughts on an additional liquor store coming to the area.

Many residents pointed out that there are already a lot of other places to buy liquor in the neighborhood including the nearby Whole Foods Market and Wine Press that are a short walk down Beacon Street in Brookline.

In addition, Kenmore Square has a Wine Gallery and a five-minute walk to Fenway has a Target, Star Market and a Craft Beer Cellar on the Van Ness St.

“Why here?” asked Jason Lowell a resident who lives nearby on Beacon Street. “It’s like selling sand at the beach.”

Douglas Gordon a co-owner of the liquor store said they chose this location because the rent is at a good rate and he believes there is a need for a high-end liquor store in the area.

“There are a lot of stores down this street that are empty – it’s not easy,” said Gordon. “But the rent here is competitive…and we can afford to be here.”

Another concern included double parking in front of the store, especially in an area that already has heavy traffic, speeding, and ongoing construction.

Gordon said that they are planning to apply for a 15-minute parking spot in front of the store to allow customers to quickly stop and pick up what they need without causing double parking.

Residents also shared concerns about what if the store does happen to fail, and then they will be stuck with a storefront that has zoning for a liquor store.

“Lets say if things go through and then the neighborhood okays it but then they leave – we’re the ones who are going to be stuck with it,” said Joan Ong a long-time resident of Audubon Circle.

Ong said she is not in support of any use of a liquor store at this location. If this store for some reason doesn’t work out, she said, it could lead to someone else down the road putting something less tasteful in. 

Ong also brought up how there used to be a liquor store in this area, where the Audubon Bar & Grill is now and that failed to stay open. She said that store had a lot of problems with students. Ong said it ran into a lot of problems with fake ID’s or older students buying alcohol for younger ones.

Currently this area is home to many Boston University students and residents are concerned that it will cater to them.

“You do understand that this is a primarily a student occupied area?” asked Dolores Boogdanian an Audubon Circle resident.

Gordon said that everyone who walks into the store will be carded and if they are over 21 years of age they will be allowed to buy.

But Boogdanian said she would prefer if there weren’t a place for even older students at the colleges or graduate students in their early twenties to buy liquor in the area.

The Audubon Circle Neighborhood Association (ACNA) voted to support this application earlier this year as long as no kegs are sold, there is no walk-in cooler, no miniature spirits or ‘nips’ are sold, no lottery tickets, and any lighting or signage must be approved by the ACNA.

Gordon also owns the liquor store in the Star Market in Allston, McGrath Beer and Wine in Cambridge, Brookline Fine Wine & Gourmet and Newton Warehouse Wine & Spirits.

Originally, Shippy’s Wine and Spirits was meant to go in front of the City of Boston Licensing Board on Wednesday, May 31 but it was pulled because the space still needs to get a variance to change it from retail to a liquor store.

The next date that the owners will be able to apply for the zoning variance will be July 11.

If granted, the owners will then be able to go in from the Licensing Board to get permission to apply their retail package store all alcohol-license that was once at Bradley Liquors store at 1252 Boylston St., and move it to 842 Beacon St., location.

The store will consist of one level of commercial space of about 1,000 square feet with a downstairs storage room of about 600 square feet. They will get permitting to have closing time to be at 11:00 PM

Gordon said, “What I mean by upper scale is classy. It’s going to be a beautiful store both inside and out.”

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