A new retail development project by Charter Realty is seeking permits to bring a Starbucks Coffee shop to 198 Hanover Street, known as the “Gateway to the North End.” Located at the corner of Cross Street, the site is across from the Rose Kennedy Greenway and currently occupied by Citizens Bank at the old Martignetti’s Liquors site.

The arrival of the omnipresent coffee chain in the high profile location is sure to be controversial given the longstanding tenure of Hanover Street’s iconic Italian espresso cafes, including Caffé Vittoria, Caffé Paradiso and Caffé Dello Sport along with other Hanover coffee shops, My Cousin’s Place and The Thinking Cup.

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The new building would contain three retail spaces and be up to 35 feet in height to include one high ceiling first floor and a 2nd floor mezzanine. The Citizens Bank ATM branch is expected to move to the center Cross St. location. The third retail space at the corner of Salem Street does not yet have a proposed tenant but has been previously been used for eateries including Caffé Graffiti and Bread & Butter.

News of the Starbucks proposal comes from a notice by the Zoning, Licensing & Construction Committee of the North End / Waterfront Residents’ Association. NEWRA’s ZLC Committee is scheduled to hear the applications at its May 2018 meeting. According to Chair Victor Brogna, the coffee giant is entering into a lease with property owner / developer Charter Realty that purchased the property in 2013 from the Martignetti family. Starbucks is being represented by Attorney Daniel Toscano.

If approved, Starbucks will be the second national coffee chain on Cross Street, joining Peet’s Coffee that opened in the former Goody Glover’s space at the corner of Salem Street. Boston’s own Dunkin’ Donuts does not currently have a North End store, with its closest outlets at Harbor Garage and North Station. Property owners on Hanover and Commercial Streets have reportedly considered Dunkin’ stores, but withdrew plans rather than face potential backlash from neighbors. Starbucks already operates several nearby locations on the waterfront including Lewis Wharf (2 Atlantic Ave.), Long Wharf (Marriott), Rowes Wharf and is opening a new store with outdoor seating at Faneuil Hall Marketplace.

Although there are no “anti-chain” zoning regulations, past proposals in the heart of the North End have been highly contested at neighborhood meetings and the stores have operated with mixed results. Most recently, a Pinkberry frozen yogurt franchise store closed after a failed three year run. Yet, there are still two 7-Eleven chains on Hanover Street and a CVS pharmacy.

After the Big Dig, the plaza on Cross Street appeared to be a stellar business location and became known as the “Gateway to the North End” across from the Greenway. Not only does it feature the famous Freedom Trail path in front, but it also spans the busiest commercial areas in the North End, between Hanover and Salem Streets.

The promise of the Cross Street Plaza is still waiting to be realized. The large brick covered area has remained oddly desolate. Other than a juicery and nail salon (both of which are moving), most of the storefronts never gained much momentum. Proven businessman Nick Varano put his sandwich shop up for sale a few years after opening. Similarly, Frank DePasquale moved his pasta shop to Mechanic’s Court, off Hanover Street. Other failed enterprises in the space include Bread & Butter and Caffe Graffiti. Although daytime parking was eliminated from part of the plaza, plans by officials for permanent seating and tables never developed.

Charter Realty is expected to bring plans to upcoming neighborhood meetings in late April and May 2018 before final permits are considered by city officials. Check the Community Calendar for details on upcoming public meetings.


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40 COMMENTS

  1. I can’t see a reasn why this won’t be a done deal. Already have chains (Peet’s) so that objection isn’t practical.

    Starbucks has enough cache and name and product recognition that it will most likely be a success.

    Thanks to the landlords of that building for selling out.

  2. I think the Starbucks is a bit of a bummer – would have loved to see a “local” chain featured on that corner like Tatte Bakery or Flour, or perhaps something like Clover with alternative casual and lighter lunch dining options (gluten free, vegetarian) for those who can’t enjoy all the Italian offerings.

  3. Sorry to see that the Juicery is moving around the corner to Salem St. Was hoping that they would have outdoor seating once the weather improved. It has been a wonderful, healthy addition to the North End.

  4. It would be a shame to see Starbucks considered the gateway to the North End maybe if you were a tourist or a yuppie you might like but not if you are Italian considering what that neighborhood means to Italian heritage

  5. Very expensive product in a location dealing with the tourist trade. The places mentioned in the neighborhood won’t loose any business. I don!t think I will walk all the way over there to pay $5 for a cup of coffee. As it is, I just wave to them going through the Marriot.

  6. Let’s get the neighborhood and neighborhood businesses out to protest Starbucks.
    Starbucks has enough locations in the area..
    Their coffee sucks anyway

  7. I love Starbucks coffee, but I would prefer to have an eating place that I could take food to the Greenery to eat during good weather. My ideal would be to have Maria’s Pastry expand, as did Modern, and definitely include the cannula, the best in the North End. Perhaps Pace’s? Starbucks does not offer enough choices for food (and a previous high-priced sandwich eatery did not make it).

  8. This is such a bummer! I love Peet’s coffee but was really sad to see them come into the neighborhood – we have so many beautiful local places that we should be celebrating. Matt please keep us updated on how we can make our neighborhood voices heard.

  9. A Starbucks at the entrance to the North End??? Not a fan of this idea, hopefully it doesn’t get approved… the North End is the small business hub of Boston & Starbucks is like the epitome of gentrification.

      • The North End, unlike the rest of gentrified Boston, has maintained an authenticity to it’s traditional cultural roots. The “new” generation of “short term residents” (avoiding the word yuppie) have very little say in neighborhood politics. The buildings & businesses are all still owned by North End families & unlike, say Southie or Charlestown, the neighborhood continues to stay true to its European roots in a rapidly gentrifying metropolitan area. Nonetheless (with all of the independently owned coffee shops in the neighborhood – Paradiso, Vittoria, Lil Italy, Dello Sport), if you think a Starbucks has a place in the North End, more likely than not you are not a good fit for the neighborhood.

        • “The buildings & businesses are all still owned by North End families” – false. Plenty of buildings are no longer owned by “north enders.” As for businesses, off the top of my head: White Hen that became 7/11 (we have 2 of them now), Tenoch Mexican, Thinking Cup, Pinkberry, CVS, Starbucks, Peets, The Juicery are all examples and it will continue. The North End is gentrified. It’s been a process that started a long time ago:

          https://www.bu.edu/today/2016/north-end-boston/

          https://northendwaterfront.com/2017/01/revisiting-north-end-gentrification-1979-american-preservation-magazine/

          Speaking of “very little say” in neighborhood politics – John Pregmon, is an excellent addition to our community. I am quite happy he’s chosen the North End as his home. The incredible work he does for the NE community and he’s is from PA Not a “North Ender.”

          Times change. Neighborhoods change. Perhaps, if you live in denial, you miss all these changes, but they still happen.

          I’d rather we didn’t have another Starbucks in the neighborhood, but like others have said, it will probably be one of the few places to afford the rents as a result of the the new construction on Cross St.. Also, Starbucks is on my jogging path and quite frequently, there is a long line of people waiting to order coffee (or whatever). I can’t imagine they are all tourists, so yes, people who live in the North End drink Starbucks. It happens.

  10. Chains stores do not adorn the gateway to the north end
    They do not belong in our community.
    You need to be an authentic Italian caffe ‘not a pretend one. ‘Starbucks is

  11. Expensive “bland” coffee with ridiculously pretentious (albeit cute) names offering free(?) workspace to individuals who are uncomfortable in a true European (OK American/European) environment. Starbucks in the North End? It will be fun to see how long it lasts.
    And the word “gateway”–will somebody please get a map??

  12. It sure would have been nice to see as much commentary about NEMPAC’s need to secure the transportation building as there is about a coffee shop chain.

  13. The problem is that the rent in is going to be $o expensive. The article mentions two very successful local businessmen who had stores there and moved out. If they can’t make it there how can any other local with less resources succede? Unfortunately only deep pockets (Chain Store) will make it.

  14. I’m noticing a neighborhood outcry against this establishment, I’m sitting here wondering where was the push back in the 1980’s and 90’s when my parents operated a convenience store on Salem st.and the same people who are against STARBUCKS allowed CVS, 7/11, White Hen Pantry to just walk right in with NO neighborhood outcry? Why was it OK then and not now, maybe because it effects certain restaurants, coffee shops ect? It’s too late you all get what you deserve!!!!

    Stephen Agrippino

    • I think all the griping in the North End won’t halt this place. As Carman mentioned, the rents favor this type of operation. They stamp these out, no brainer operations where they manage by the script. They watch the profit continually and just pullout and try somewhere else if it doesn’t work out. What you are talking about is a commitment to the neighborhood. For outfits like this is just a test or a foray. Better be careful if you plan to use their bathroom.

  15. Boston Resident: Your idea about an eatery is great. Outdoor tables would work and we could cross over to the Greenway with take-out food. Nothing fancy, or strictly Italian….just a place similar, in a way, to a deli. Maria’s Pastry is not good for that space. There is pastry all over the North End. Starbucks is much too expensive AND their tiny sandwiches are a waste of money.

  16. Too bad the developer is not proposing a taller building with some apartments on the third to fourth floors. Incremental changes like those are necessary to alleviate our housing crisis.

  17. Any residential units facing the greenway would command astronomical rents and not alleviate the affordable/moderate housing crisis in Boston.

    • Not at all. Where do you think people who could afford astronomical rents would go if those homes don’t get built?

      The answer is that they’ll just outbid others who can’t afford astronomical rents on a different, “cheaper” apartment. Those others will then outbid still others who can’t afford the cheaper place, and on and on until displacement occurs.

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