Heights Pub aims to open at Balich site

UPDATED, Sept. 5: The site of the funky Heights shop that long invited you to "step back into time and browse over 20,000 items on original glass and wood fixtures" aims to become a neighborhood pub.

Drawing: The Heights Pub, 2019. / Alfaro Mendoza & Co.Drawing: The Heights Pub, 2019. / Alfaro Mendoza & Co.

The site of Balich 5 + 10, at 1314 Mass. Ave., which closed in June 2018, is targeted for 61-seat restaurant and tavern to be called the Heights Pub. A Redevelopment Board hearing about an application for a special permit is set for 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, at the Town Hall Annex, second-floor conference room.

The applicant is First House LLC, a partnership that operates First House Pub at 528 Main St., Winchester. Its representatives seek a special permit to get relief from parking requirements.

61 seats suggest 15 parking spaces

Plans for the 2,100 square feet of commercial space on a 16,181-square-foot lot say "no change in the exterior" is expected. 

Drawings dated May 8 by architect Alfaro Mendoza & Co. of Boston show 46 seats and a bar with 15 seats plus a takeout area, a pizza oven and a salad unit.

Section 6.1.4 of zoning bylaw requires, for restaurant use, “1 space per 4 seats of total seating capacity.” For 61 seats, the applicant likely seeks relief from having to provide 15 dedicated off-street spaces.

The restaurant is expected to serve comfort and pub food, as well as American fare.  

The site is zoned B-3 Village Business District, which allows mixed use. The property's second floor has housing units.

Plans say the site has no open space.

A retail site since 1954, plans say it has no dedicated parking. The proposal cites "ample street parking," primarily for evening use, and notes on-street parking at Davis Road, near Wanamaker's, and 29 spaces on Park Avenue.

The proposal adds that the site is "near the bike path."

The information was submitted to planning by Michael Bettencourt of Stoneham, counsel for First House.

The total assessed value for the property as of fiscal 2016 was $2,255,100.

'Successful addition' in Winchester

The proposal describes First House as a small local partnership whose similar spot in Winchester is a "successful addition," which "helped to revitalize a once struggling town center." The principals are Thomas Bernazani and James O'Rourke.

The applicant would be a lessee. The property owner is Nigoghos and Caroline Atinizian of Fresh Pond Shopping Center Trust of Vast Capital Management

 YourArlington reported the possibility of a pub at the site May 23, based on a Boston Restaurant Talk report

O'Rourke confirmed to YourArlington that he signed a lease that week. "Now we can proceed with the Zoning Board, Select Board and ABCC hearings," he wrote.

May 9, 2018: Balich has gone, but will not be forgotten

This news summary was published Monday, Sept. 2, 2019, and updated, to add the board, to clarify the number of seats and to add the parking requirement, as suggested by a reader. On Sept. 5, the references to private lots were removed.

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