Update: Pinkberry Not Coming to Davis Square

Pinkberry would have joined two other new frozen yogurt eateries in the square.

Update, 11:15 a.m., Nov. 8: Pinkberry will not be coming to Davis Square, at least not in the near future.

According to planning staff with the Zoning Board of Appeals, Pinkberry withdrew its application at the Board's meeting Wednesday night. It seems the Board was not inclined to grant permission to the frozen yogurt giant, so Pinkberry withdrew its application before it was officially denied.

Original story:

In the past three months, Davis Square has sprouted two new frozen yogurt establishments, and it looks like a third—Pinkberry—is on the way. All three yogurt places would be within about 320 feet of each other.

First came iYo Cafe, a self-serve frozen yogurt parlor and coffee shop that opened at the beginning of August at 234 Elm St. 

Then, in October, came another self-serve yogurt place, Orange Leaf Frozen Yogurt, which is having a grand opening event on Nov. 10, at 260 Elm St. (Or is it 258 Elm St.? Or 256 Elm St.? More on that later.)

Now Pinkberry, a global chain with more than 170 stores around the world, according to its website, is possibly moving into 263 Elm St., the storefront formerly occupied by Massachusetts Insurance Agency.

The Somerville Zoning Board of Appeals was scheduled to have a hearing about Pinkberry, which was seeking special permits from the Board, on Nov. 7. (Somerville Patch did not know the results of that hearing as of this posting, but ZBA staff was recommending approval.)

And don't forget that J.P. Licks, an ice cream parlor, is about 420 feet away from this yogurt nucleus.

Is there room for this much froyo?

Already, the sudden influx of frozen yogurt seems to have caused some tension in the square.

After Orange Leaf received permitting approval in July, iYo Cafe appealed the decision with the Zoning Board of Appeals, citing a discrepancy with the address. The original ZBA decision approved Orange Leaf at 258 Elm St., but the text of that decision also referred to 256 Elm St.

At a ZBA hearing on Sept. 5, which Somerville Patch attended, iYo's owner explained why he appealed that decision: It didn't have to do with the competition, which he said he welcomed, but rather the city shouldn't issue permits to businesses with incorrect and inconsistent address.

Eventually, Orange Leaf had to file a second application with the correct address, which is, apparently, "256 Elm Street a/k/a 260 Elm Street, #103." Refiling the application delayed Orange Leaf's opening by over a month.

Now, Pinkberry's possible entry into Davis Square is causing some neighborhood complaints.

A post on Davis Square LiveJournal called on people to attend the Nov. 7 ZBA hearing to speak against Pinkberry. Among other things, the post says,  "There is no 'need' for such a facility in the square with (3) shops (JP Licks, Orange Leaf, iYO cafe) with the same use all located within two blocks from each other"

The writer asked people to sign an online petition opposing Pinkberry in Davis Square. As of Wednesday afternoon it had 19 supporters.

What do you think? Has frozen yogurt gotten out of hand in Davis Square, or is there room for everyone? Where will you get your yogurt in Davis Square?

Betsy Lenora November 08, 2012 at 04:54 PM
In the article, you ask where will I get my frozen yogurt. To answer, Richardson's in the Somerville Theater serves excellent hard frozen yogurt in generous sizes for less money than all the other establishments.
Benjamin Mako Hill November 09, 2012 at 08:39 AM
I think a third frozen yogurt place along a couple blocks of Elm Street is somewhat crazy and I agree with the idea that all three are not viable as businesses. It also sounds like the iYo folks are kind of being sneaky, backhanded, and anti-competitive. They're worried about their business, sure. But this seems like only one step beyond dirty tricks. It's a difficult decision and, not knowing details, it's seems the decision to withdraw is not a great one. But I do think that keeping that old insurance space empty is worse. Hopefully, now that the appeal was rejected/withdrawn, they'll find someone else to get into that space quickly!
Benjamin Mako Hill November 09, 2012 at 08:40 AM
Whoops, I meant to say that the decision to withdraw was probably a good one.
Matt C November 09, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I am torn on this one, on one hand we ask ourselves if the zoning board should be determining what businesses should be in Davis sq or not and on the other we have to find good ways of encouraging local businesses to start in and expand to the most dynamic and growing sections of Somerville. This said, I am glad that Pinkberry is not coming to davis because we have a great locally owned shop (iYo) there that provides great products and services.
Ron Newman November 10, 2012 at 11:09 AM
I'm glad we have a good local shop, but I'd rather they concentrate on making and selling a great product, rather than using a government agency (ZBA) to delay or prevent competitors.


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