Between the recent winter from hell, the continued sputtering economy and a broken sprinkler head that flooded some of its most venerable retailers (and that remains unfixed nine months later), 2015 did not hit the ground running as far as Wayland Square is concerned. But now it appears at least some help is on the way.
Wayland Square merchants recently gathered at The Olive Tap with East Side Councilmen Seth Yurdin and Sam Zurier to address some of their fundamental concerns. Among the items on their agenda: better crosswalk markings, improved lighting and initiatives to slow down traffic. The councilmen agreed to set up meetings with the heads of the appropriate city services, the first of which have already begun, and are optimistic about the outcome. Merchant requests for some sidewalk repairs are a little more complicated. According to Councilman Zurier, there simply isn’t enough money right now for the broad fix that certainly would help the area the most. That said, Zurier reported that he is pushing for a bonding mechanism that would raise much of the funds needed. Unfortunately bond passage requires voter approval, which will push this back into 2016. Still he pledged to persist in his efforts and Councilman Yurdin promised any potentially dangerous situation could be addressed immediately. News as to the status of the flood
damaged building on Wayland Avenue that formerly housed Butterfield’s, the Walking Company, Reliable Gold and Wendy Brown Home, remains less promising. Closed since a burst pipe in September of 2014, the vacant building effects the entire Square. “It’s more than just a problem for the former tenants there,” said one merchant. “It reflects badly on the whole area when you drive by the four empty and unattractive storefronts.” The councilmen said they would approach the landlord, Steve Lewinstein, to at the very least see about improving window signage to enhance its drive-by presence. “But unfortunately it’s a private business, so there’s only so much the City can do,” admitted Zurier. When contacted by East Side Monthly, the owner reported progress is being made with the insurance company and he hopes for resolution soon.
Two new tenants are planning to open in the Square shortly, a running shoe store in part of the old Runcible Spoon space and a pasta restaurant next door. And while Butterfield’s has closed permanently, Wendy Brown Home and Reliable Gold are considering new options. The former is doing much of their business via the internet (www. wendybrownhome.com) while the later expects to be relocating shortly.
Meanwhile the core merchants at the Square are banding together. An aggressive group marketing campaign has begun, and confidence remains high that the loyalty of their traditional customer base and the Square’s impressive and unique mix of upscale retail and culinary options will take care of the rest. We certainly add our voice of support to their efforts and wish them well.