After the Fires, Frustration

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The view from Nicky’s Pizza shows the lingering devastation of last year’s fire on Bainbridge Avenue (Photo: Adi Talwar)

Editor's note: this 2010 “year in review” article appeared in last week's Norwood News.

By Alex Kratz

For many Norwood-area residents and merchants, 2010 was a frustrating year as the community struggled to rebound from two devastating fires that left a gaping hole in the heart of a thriving shopping district.

The site of the first fire, which took place last Halloween morning, is now a weed-infested lot surrounded by warped, graffiti-riddled plywood boards. It’s an eyesore made even more maddening to residents and other business owners by the fact that the owner, Evelyn Jacobsen, has done nothing with the property.

On top of that, Jacobsen has refused to talk with the press or the local community board about her plans.
Some of the destroyed businesses have re-opened nearby or farther away, while others have called it quits altogether. A few of the remaining businesses, like Hillside Meat and Deli, are doing well, but many are struggling with the loss of foot traffic.

“It’s sad, it’s a shame, it’s bad, very bad,” said Nick Delija, the owner of Nicky’s Pizza, which sits just across the street from the empty lot. “I don’t have words to say [how bad it is].”

The owner of Hair Shoppe, a long-standing salon on Bainbridge, near East 205th Street, attributed the demise of her business to the second fire, which took out the strip’s major supermarket, Foodtown, and two other businesses. People used to get their hair done after picking up their groceries, but no longer.

Foodtown is rebuilding a bigger store with more shopping options that is scheduled to open in January. They are expanding into space formerly occupied by a dentist’s office and the American Diner, whose owner, Mohammed Quadir, was arrested and charged with arson for allegedly paying someone to set the blaze.

Quadir’s trial could begin sometime early this year.