No Bites Yet for Small Grocery in Doyle’s Block Redevelopment

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When neighbors discuss what businesses they want, grocery stores are a perennial favorite. And that's the plan for the re-development of the Doyle's block: A small grocery store, in addition to a new restaurant and condos.

Rendering of proposed development at 3478 Washington St.

WaterMark Development and Scales Architechture

Rendering of proposed space for a small grocery store at 3478 Washington St.

So far, however, no grocer has agreed to move in to what would be a 4,178 square-foot space at the corner of Washington and Gartland. That doesn't trouble Lee Goodman, the JP native who's heading up the renovations.

Goodman told Jamaica Plain News he'd sent the plans to six or eight grocers. There's interest, he said, but grocers tell him to call back when he has a permit. That could be as soon as six months. Once the city approves the project, construction is estimated to take a further 18 months.

Goodman said he'd love to attract a small grocer similar to "The Daily" in Savin Hill, Daily Table in Roxbury or the South End Food Emporium.

Historically, it's been a tough sell to attract and keep neighborhood grocers in Jamaica Plain. For instance, Harvest Co-op moved from South Street to Forest Hills, but couldn't make a go of it. (It's worth mentioning that in this case, Harvest closed all its stores, not just the one in the space now occupied by The Croft School.) Hopes for a small grocery on "Parcel U" across from the Forest Hills station parking lot also never came to pass.

Goodman said he'd like to think the proposed grocery store at 3478 Washington would be a more attractive location that Harvest's old Forest Hills spot.

Public Meeting Set for May 20
The Doyle's renovation is making its way through the city's approval process. The next public meeting will be held virtually, at 6-8 p.m. on May 20.

WaterMark Development updated their proposal in April to add six new condos at 69 Williams St., one of which would be affordable. That would bring the total housing for the project up to 29 units between three locations: 16 in a five-story building fronting Washington Street, seven at 60 Willliams across from the current Doyle's parking lot and six at 69 Williams St. Here's the current full proposal.

If you live near the project and would like to give your input, there are several avenues. The Stonybrook Neighborhood Association has an active membership and has been monitoring the proposed development. The city is taking comments on the proposal through June 4. Below is an overhead view of the project's three areas:

Renovation proposals for 3478-3484 Washington Street (Doyle's Café), 60 Williams St. and 69 Williams St.

WaterMark Development and Scales Architechture

Renovation proposals for 3478-3484 Washington Street (Doyle's Café), 60 Williams St. and 69 Williams St.

Renovations
Goodman stressed that the project is a gut rehab, not a demolition of the existing Doyle's building. The existing walls and exterior along Washington and Williams will remain. The existing Doyle's building will be expanded down Washington Street to the corner of Gartland. An existing house at that corner would be torn down. The grocery store would be placed partially in the existing building and partly in the addition. Here's a comparison of the building massing along Washington:

Existing buildings at Washington and Gartland streets

WaterMark Development and Scales Architecture

Existing buildings at Washington and Gartland streets

 

Proposal for Washington Street-facing portion of project

WaterMark Development and Scales Architecture

Proposal for Washington Street-facing portion of project

Goodman said the existing Doyle's building, built 140 years ago, has to be brought up to code. The floors will be dropped down by two feet so that entrances can be handicapped accessible. Anyone who remembers the steep, narrow steps on the Williams Street entrance will have a sense of why this change is needed.

The proposed layout will be similar to the old Doyle's. Goodman's team made a point of saving the old bar, which will be featured in the new restaurant. Tentatively named "Brassica at Doyle's" in project documents, the restaurant will be run by the team behind Brassica's Forest Hills location.

The newly added condos at 69 Williams St. would replace an existing structure, which would be torn down. Resident Jenny Nathans recently wrote about the history of the house on Jamaica Plain News. A representative of the Boston Landmarks Commission said that after researching, the commission determined that the house does not have "historical, architectural, cultural or urban design significance." That means there will be no demolition delay for 69 Williams St. under the city's "Article 85" process.

Nathans also wrote up a history of 3474-3476 Washington St. for the Jamaica Plain Historical Society. The three-story, two-family house at that address is slated for demolition. The "urban market" area of the redeveloped site would sit where this house now stands.

[Editor's note: This post has been updated with new information from the Boston Landmarks Commission about 69 Williams St.]

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