With Code Violations Pending, Bove Empties Building for Renovation | Off Message

With Code Violations Pending, Bove Empties Building for Renovation


Stannard House - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • Stannard House
A historic Burlington building owned by the Bove family near their now-closed Italian eatery has racked up 38 code violations.

But real estate developer and pasta sauce company co-owner Rick Bove says a fix is on the menu. He's asked all tenants of the red brick building at the corner of Pearl and George streets to move by June 1 so he can renovate the property.

Bove said he delayed making repairs at 3-11 George Street because of a $500,000 top-to-bottom renovation set to start shortly on the one-time domicile of General George J. Stannard, a Civil War hero.

More recently, the two-story building has been the subject of numerous skirmishes with the city over upkeep.

The Burlington Housing Review Board on April 18 ordered Bove to fix violations including broken windows, leaky plumbing, a cracked toilet seat, failed caulking, defective cooking equipment, and cracked walls and holes in the ceiling.

A city inspector cited Bove's property for the violations in January. Bove appealed to the Housing board for a delay on account of the planned restoration.

The citizen board rejected the appeal in a written decision. It stated Bove had talked about "renovating/and or redeveloping the property for years with nothing changing."

In an interview with Seven Days, Bove said Thursday he wanted to incorporate the repairs into the restoration this summer.

"You don't have to go to Harvard to realize that to fix something up and then in a week you're going to redo the whole thing? You're just throwing good money after bad," Bove said.

The renovation will transform the building, he added: "It's going to be beautiful."
The building at 94 Pearl Street - MOLLY WALSH
  • Molly Walsh
  • The building at 94 Pearl Street
The building has six apartments and about 12 residential tenants. The sole commercial space is leased to the Diversity Hair Salon, which has operated there for around a decade.

Some of the renters are moving to other Bove family apartments, Bove said. The landlord said he offered the hair salon owners a commercial space in the neighboring Victoria Place, a residential and commercial building the family owns on Pearl Street.

So far they haven't taken him up on it, he said.

Diversity Salon co-owner Jacqueline Gibson said last week that she might move her salon "chair" a few blocks east to Metro Hair at 180 Pearl Street. Gibson said she will miss the current space but was philosophical about the move. "If it's going to be for the better, I'm OK with it," she said.

The Housing Review Board ordered Bove to address some of the violations at the Stannard House by June 30. That order could now be moot. If the city verifies that the building is empty, the deadline won't apply, said Bill Ward, director of Burlington Code Enforcement.

"We're going to provide whatever time he needs if there's nobody in the place. You don't have to meet the minimum housing requirement if the people are not housed there," Ward said.

Because of the appeals built into the process, Bove has not been fined for the current violations but does owe $360 for inspection fees, Ward said.

The Stannard House has been an issue with the city in the past. In 2013, a city council committee threatened to withhold the liquor license for Bove's restaurant over code violations at the Stannard House and several other properties the Bove family owned.

Bove said the Stannard House will be renovated regardless of whether the city approves a larger development he is proposing. That project would skirt behind the Stannard House and Victoria Place, running from George Street to Pearl Street.

“We're doing this building whether the rest of the development happens or not," Bove said. "It's kind of its own standalone rehab, so to speak."

The family restaurant, which for decades served up spaghetti and meat balls at 64 Pearl Street, would be demolished and replaced with a hotel under the latest development proposal.

The project has changed since Bove pitched a preliminary plan in "sketch review" to the city last fall.

The new plan calls for a 76-room hotel to be operated by the Microtel Inn & Suites chain. It would include a rooftop lounge and and a new restaurant (not a Bove's). The proposal would also include 20 units of rental housing.
A rendering of the proposed Microtel that would be built at the current location of Bove's on Pearl Street in Burlington. - SCOTT + PARTNERS ARCHITECTURE
  • Scott + Partners Architecture
  • A rendering of the proposed Microtel that would be built at the current location of Bove's on Pearl Street in Burlington.

His 2016 proposal did not include a hotel. It instead called for two apartment buildings that would have added about 50 units of new housing to the corner, after subtracting units that would be lost when Bove tears down three buildings standing there now.

Bove said he changed the project after concluding that downtown Burlington has more need for a chic, but lower-price, hotel than for 50 new rental units.

He noted that the rental vacancy rate in Chittenden County increased to 4.4 percent in December with the construction of new units in the area last year. More are approved and under construction this year.

"There's a lot of stuff in the pipeline," Bove said. "I think we're going to have many 'for rent' signs in the not-so-distant future."

But his development is on hold for now. Bove has not submitted the revised plan for review. It won't go forward, he said, unless he can convince the city to sell or lease him the parking lot behind Victoria Place. He'd need that city lot to have enough parking spaces to meet new building zoning requirements.

"Without that, we really can't go forward. We won't have enough parking," Bove said.

He declined to disclose details of the negotiations, saying it's still in the early stages. The city council would have to approve any deal.

The Stannard House will continue to house apartments after the renovation, Bove said, while the commercial space where Diversity is located might be converted to residential as well.

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