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Monday, September 12, 2016

Former Bove's Café Could Meet the Wrecking Ball

Posted By on Mon, Sep 12, 2016 at 9:49 PM

click to enlarge Rendering of the proposed George Street Lofts and Pearl Street Lofts - SCOTT+PARTNERS ARCHITECTURE
  • Scott+Partners Architecture
  • Rendering of the proposed George Street Lofts and Pearl Street Lofts
The antipasto salad is just a memory, and now the shuttered Bove's Café building could soon disappear too. 

Rick Bove, grandson of the Italian eatery's founders, is proposing to demolish the restaurant building at 64 Pearl Street in Burlington to make way for a $14 million apartment complex. It would include two buildings, one with 39 units and another with 17 units, as well as a 60-car underground garage.

The development would add 50 net units of housing on the edge of downtown, after subtracting what would be lost in demolition. The proposal also calls for demolishing two 19th-century apartment houses around the corner, at 13 and 19 George Street. 

The red brick General Stannard House on the corner of George and Pearl streets would be renovated, according to the application Bove filed with the city. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The restaurant, with its iconic 1940s art deco facade and pistachio interior, closed last December after serving up meatballs and red sauce for more than 70 years. It survived a 1960s urban renewal spree that razed much of Burlington's Little Italy. Over the decades, it served legions of hungry college kids, families and politicians. 

Bove family members announced last fall that they would close the restaurant and expand their spaghetti sauce business from a wholesale plant in Milton. The initial plan was to use the vacant restaurant as prep space for catering jobs.

The closure set off a local debate about what should happen to the building, and some suggested it be carted off to Shelburne Museum as a relic of Burlington's Little Italy. Historic preservationists frowned on that, saying it's best to keep historic properties in place.

The proposal is in the early stages, known as sketch plan review, and has not yet come before the city's development review board.

It's unclear what roadblocks, if any, Bove might face in seeking permission from the city for the plan. The Bove's building is on the Vermont State Register of Historic Places and city codes discourage teardowns of historic structures.

The Boves won approval to demolish two historic buildings on the same block of Pearl Street back in 2001 for the Victoria Place apartments, built next to Bove's.

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Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh

Molly Walsh is a Seven Days staff writer.

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