The corner of Washington and Cumberland avenues might as well be called Gas Station Square. A Big Apple and a 7-Eleven grace two corners of the intersection. Another corner is home to a Buffalo Wings-n-Things location that looks suspiciously like it was also a gas station in a previous life.
Then there’s 15 Washington Ave. — a.k.a. “The Hexagon.” The presence of gas-pump stumps on the property indicates this minor architectural curiosity was originally a gas station, as well, when it was built in 1971. At some point the gas stopped flowing and hair clippers started buzzing when The Hexagon morphed into Lovejoy’s Barbershop. Then, two years ago, the building was purchased by Alec Altman, one of the owners of Binga’s Wingas, and it’s stood empty ever since, waiting for the wrecking ball to finish it off.
Altman’s plan for the site? A parking lot for patrons of a future East End branch of Binga’s he hopes to open across the street. (That property was profiled in the June 2008 edition of That’s My Dump!).
When Altman was originally drawing up plans for an East End Binga’s, The Hexagon wasn’t part of the picture, but he said city planners were concerned about where his future patrons would park. Once Altman is done with it, The Hexagon and the gas-pump stumps will be gone, leaving a nice smooth coat of asphalt.
“It’s pretty much used as a parking lot anyway,” Altman said. “I’m just making it nice and pretty.”
Not everyone sees the beauty. City Councilor Kevin Donoghue said that while he’s pleased the neighborhood may soon be blessed with another restaurant, he isn’t excited that it will also be damned with another parking lot. “I’m generally discouraged when parking requirements condemn cities to underdevelopment,” said Donoghue, whose district includes the property.
Donoghue said he would rather see such parking requirements eliminated, so it would be easier to redevelop similar parcels with housing and retail developments. “Business districts have on-street parking for a reason,” he said.
Altman said he hopes to have the East End Binga’s up and running by the end of this year. Those plans are unaffected by the fire that severely damaged the flagship Binga’s in Bramhall Square last November. “The East End location was already a work in progress, and it’s trucking right along on schedule,” he said.
When that truck arrives, there’ll still be plenty of places to fill its tank.
— Patrick Banks