Kam Man market ‘was overbuilt,’ neighbors say in asking state review

Members of the McCormack Civic Association have opened up another front in group’s long-running battle over a former warehouse-turned-Asian-supermarket in the South Bay mall. Association members contend they did not get a chance to review the project through a process known as “Article 80” that is overseen by the Boston Redevelopment Authority.

The civic association voted 17 to 10 on Tuesday night to petition the state Department of Public Safety for a review of City Hall officials’ determination that an Article 80 process was not needed for the 59 Enterprise St. building, which currently houses Kam Man Supermarket. One person abstained from the vote, which came at the end of the association’s monthly meeting in the basement of Blessed Mother Teresa church.

The vote occurred days after the grand opening of the Kam Man Supermarket, which was attended by Mayor Thomas Menino, state Rep. Marty Walsh, and District 2 City Councillor Bill Linehan.

In a Jan. 23 letter to the civic association, BRA chief Peter Meade noted that the city’s Inspectional Services Department received an application from Marr Realty Trust, the property owner, and then-leaseholder Win Vest, Inc. in Sept. 1998, requesting approval for a change of occupancy to supermarket, the renovation of the existing 45,000-square foot warehouse into use as a supermarket, and the construction of a mezzanine for storage.

An Article 80 review covers changes or establishment of a floor area of 50,000 or more square feet, Meade wrote in his letter to civic members. The application, as filed, did not meet the threshold for review under Article 80, he added.

A Super 88 market once filled the space, but the company went bankrupt. The owners of Kam Man bought the lease to the steel building last year and Kam Man Supermarket opened its doors on Feb. 15.

But, civic association members say, the occupancy-permit applicants ended up overbuilding to 51,000 square feet on the first floor. “They’re in there illegally,” said Bill McDonald, who lives a hundred feet away from the supermarket. “They overbuilt the building.”

Neighborhood residents previously had clashed over the Super 88 store in 2005, with members of the Columbia Savin Hill Civic Association expressing frustration with code violations and charges of inadequate parking, rotting fish, and stray electrical wires.

Some remain hopeful that they can work out their issues with Kam Man, but add that they still want a chance to review the project. Desmond Rohan, a McCormack Civic Association member said the new supermarket has its positives and has brought jobs into the community. Added McDonald: “What we’re trying to do is get them to comply with the regulations that everybody else has to comply with.”

A representative of Kam Man Supermarket could not be reached for comment yesterday. Founded in 1972, the company has stores in Quincy, Manhattan, and New Jersey.

New Asian Food Market Opens at South Bay from Chris Lovett on Vimeo.