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After a protracted and controversial process, Stone Hearth Pizza Co.—a local family-style restaurant chain that recently leased a Harvard-owned property in Allston—received approval yesterday to proceed to the next round in its application for a beer and wine license, according to Stone Hearth owner Jonathan Schwarz.
“You don’t know when things can get sidetracked or stopped in the process,” Schwarz said. “I’m thankful that they approved it, and grateful to the community that endorsed us.”
Moving forward on a beer and wine license is the latest step in Harvard long-term effort to bring new tenants to Western Ave. after many business leases expired and University properties were left vacant amid Harvard’s efforts to construct the now delayed Allston Science Complex.
In order to acquire a beer and wine license, Stone Hearth must receive approval from both the City of Boston Licensing Board and the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.
The City of Boston Licensing Board initially granted Stone Hearth’s application for a license in December, but then revoked its approval due to a zoning discrepancy.
Stone Hearth had applied for a beer and wine license reserved for businesses in “urban renewal areas”—special zones that the Boston Redevelopment Authority designates in need of revitalization.
Schwarz and his business partner, Christopher Robbins, said they did not realize the “urban renewal area” across the street does not include their own property, according to Schwarz.
The Allston Civic Association had also recommended against Stone Hearth’s proposal to occupy 182 Western Ave. in an 8-6 vote in October that hinged on residents’ concerns with Stone Hearth’s plan to request a beer and wine license.
Stone Hearth’s lease is part of the University’s effort to revitalize Western Ave. and fulfill its long-held promise to transform the avenue into a thriving “main street” since halting construction on the Allston Science Complex in Dec. 2009.
“We are working very hard to attract the kind of locally-owned, family-friendly use that our neighbors wanted to see in the former Citgo gas station and are pleased that Stone Hearth is finalizing their plans and will be enlivening Barry’s Corner in just a few months,” wrote University spokesperson Lauren Marshall in an e-mail.
Over the past 12 months, the University has leased property in Allston to 13 businesses and non-profit organizations—including Genzyme, the Silk Road Project, and the Boston Boxing Club—according to University spokesperson John D. Longbrake. The University’s lease to Stone Hearth at 182 Western Ave. is the most recent such agreement.
“I hope this will transform an abandoned gas station to what I hope is a warm and welcoming space for everyone who lives and works around us,” Schwarz said.
—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at email@example.com.
—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.
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