When the agenda for the March 2 meeting of the Burlington Development Review Board appeared, one plan raised a number of eyebrows. The owner of 316-322 Flynn Avenue was seeking to “demolish [its] existing convenience store and construct [a] new mixed use (commercial and residential) building with associated parking.” Many residents of the South End neighborhood recognized that address as the Pine Street Deli.
Mike Alvanos, the deli’s co-owner, confirms that he has big plans for his space. But he urges fans of his soups and meatloaf sandwiches not to panic. Though the deli may be closed for six months to a year once construction begins, no plan is cemented yet. “I know there’s been buzz on Front Porch Forum and on Facebook,” Alvanos says. “But we’re so preliminary at this point, we’re not even sure it’s going all the way through.”
Like much of lower Flynn Avenue, the Pine Street Deli building has outdated, nonconforming zoning, so Alvanos can’t expand or improve it until he’s been through the review process. Repairs are an urgent concern, he says: “This building’s gonna keel over any minute, and I don’t want to be in it when it does.”
That fear, along with parking problems, inspired Alvanos to initiate a change. An architect and partner in JRMA Design Studio, and a planning commissioner for the town of Williston, he has a sense of what it will take to bring the 1960s building up to code. Power bills currently run more than $4500 a month, Alvanos says, putting energy efficiency on his wish list.
To solve his problems, Alvanos hopes to build a new, energy-efficient complex with space for a spiffed-up Pine Street Deli and 23 affordable apartments. He says he plans to discuss the possibility of providing housing for artists with the South End Arts and Business Association. Collaborating with an as-yet-undetermined local business to accommodate cyclists is another idea. “We have a great opportunity to support our community,” Alvanos says.
He hopes South Enders will stand behind his effort to improve the neighborhood, but “Planning and Zoning might say, ‘Forget about it,’” he acknowledges. “We’d love to get support for it from the community.”