, Salem, MA

February 18, 2013

Food market to fill vacant site


---- — BEVERLY — For more than a century, a store stood at the corner of Essex and Gardner streets near the Montserrat train station.

Then a wind and rain storm huffed and puffed and blew the deteriorating building down three years ago, leaving a vacant lot on Route 22.

That hole will finally be filled. The Planning Board last week approved a plan to build a new store, to be called Woodbury Food Market, at the location.

Owner Amit Patel said the store will include takeout lunch and dinner foods prepared in a kitchen on-site.

“It’s a little bit more than a convenience store,” he said.

The site was last home to a Li’l Peach store, which closed in 2007. Patel, who also owns the Beverly Shop & Go convenience store farther down Essex Street, bought the building in 2009 and had begun preparing it for demolition when it collapsed in August 2010.

Planning Board member James Matz, who lives in the neighborhood, asked about the former store’s history of robberies. The Li’l Peach was robbed three times in seventh months in 2005.

“What’s going to keep that from happening again?” he asked.

Gregory Smith, the architect for the building, said the old store had no windows, making it more vulnerable to robberies.

“It was seedy,” he said.

Smith said the new store will have plenty of windows, as well as security cameras.

Ward 4 City Councilor Scott Houseman said the neighborhood had been experiencing a “rodent problem” and wondered how the new store would deal with that. Smith said Patel would take all of the precautions regarding food waste that are required by the city’s health department.

Patel said the store will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. It will not have a liquor license. He said he hopes to start construction this spring.

Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or