Great Scott’s relocation to the Allston Depot, the site of the former Regina Pizzeria space, has taken a massive step forward: Carl Lavin, the leader of a Mainvest crowdfunding campaign that has so far raised $221,000, has signed a letter of intent with the building’s landlord to move the rock club down Harvard Avenue.
Lavin posted the news to the Mainvest investment page Friday afternoon (September 18). There is 12 days left in the campaign, of which 588 people have invested.
“We’ve still got some hurdles to clear en route to getting a lease in place and to get started converting the space to a live music venue, but the forward momentum continues to be strong,” Lavin writes. “We’ve got less than two weeks before the deadline for investment contributions so if you’ve been sitting on additional investment waiting for more good news, well here it is so feel free to dig in. And if you find yourself with a moment to post the link to the investment campaign encouraging others to get on board it’d be hugely appreciated as well.”
The news of the letter of intent comes a few short months after Oak Hill Properties LLC ended a spirited campaign to save, resurrect, and maintain the beloved bar and live music space by signing a new tenant of its own at 1222 Commonwealth Ave., where Great Scott had operated for 44 years.
The former Regina Pizzeria spot, owned and operated by Arcand Associates, sits at 353 Cambridge St., on the corner of Harvard Avenue, diagonally across the street from Great Scott sister venue O’Brien’s Pub. Built in the 1880s, it was left vacant after Regina permanently closed in July. Regina had operated the space since 2010, and before that it was known as college hangout the Sports Depot and seafood restaurant Captain Fishbones.
Vanyaland toured the Regina space earlier this week with Lavin and others. Lavin envisions a room capacity of approximately 275 people, a slight bump from Great Scott’s 240 capacity, with the stage located in the far left corner of the space, replacing the oversized bar that filled that corner of Regina. The backstage area would be on the Franklin Street side of the room, with the red caboose acting as a green room. Load-in entry would connect that area to the street, and provide parking for bands and touring vehicles.
The space would also include a relocated bar area running along the Mass Pike side of the venue, and an elevated section along the parking lot side for clear sightlines. There would also be 70 parking spaces for showgoers, across two parking lots, and designated areas away from the stage, where Regina’s dining booths were located, where people could have a drink and a conversation.
When asked about the size of the stage at the new space, Lavin said it’s important to try and imitate Great Scott as much as possible: “Everything that we can do to replicate at the size of Great Scott, we want to do,” Lavin tells Vanyaland. “I’m all about maintaining that Great Scott intimacy.”
Also part of the plans for Great Scott at the Allston Depot include bringing in Allston Rock City Pizza, currently operating at 568 Cambridge St. near Union Square, to serve food out of the space’s kitchen area. The dining area would be to the right of the venue as you walk in, with the venue running to the left. But Lavin admits there’s a lot of work to do to bring it all into fruition.
That said, the relocation of Great Scott would be a welcome reversal to a series of live music venue closings in the Boston area as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, the region has lost Great Scott, The Milky Way in Jamaica Plain, and The Cantab and Club Bohemia in Cambridge. Last month, news hit that O’Brien’s, also owned by Great Scott owner Frank Strenk, was up for sale, though efforts have been made to keep the venue open.
Great Scott first closed in March as the coronavirus pandemic began to hit, and word spread on May 1 that the live music venue would not re-open after Strenk declined offers from Oak Hill to keep the club going despite an uncertain market for live music.
A few weeks later, Lavin, under his new Chowderquake, LLC operation, reached an agreement with Strenk to purchase the club’s liquor license, gear, and intellectual property, and on May 26, independently launched a crowdfunding campaign through MainVest.
Thank you all for every bit of your support,” Lavin writes, “it continues to motivate me to get this done and to get ready for when the rock can come back!”