Gunfire rang out outside Garage, 20 Linden St., early on April 20, just hours after the chairwoman of the Boston Licensing Board had given her OK for the place to re-open for the first time since a double shooting in the club parking lot last November.
Club owner Alex Matov told the board yesterday he's closing Garage for good and will let the space sit vacant until the building is razed to make way for a new residential complex - one that he is a partner in. The BPDA and the Zoning Board of Appeal approved the proposed 349-unit, three-building project last year.
That's probably just as well for licensing-board members, who raked Matov over the coals at a hearing yesterday. They said they were outraged that after Matov agreed last month to have somebody available 24/7 to answer board or police questions about issues at the club, they could not find anybody until the next day to ask about what happened around 2:38 a.m. on April 30, when neighbors reported hearing at least one shot, a man jumping into an older silver Nissan and then yelling "get the fuck outta here!" as club security rushed around getting people to leave the club parking lot.
A BPD detective told the board that, as of the hearing, in fact, he had still not gotten a copy of video from the club's surveillance cameras.
"It's infuriating to me as chair that you did not cooperate with Boston Police," board Chairwoman Kathleen Joyce told Matov, noting that on April 19, she spent an hour at the club with club managers and police, checking out security cameras and going over final security plans to prevent a recurrence of a double shooting on Nov. 15. After that shooting, Matov closed the club to hire new staff; at a hearing in January, police complained club workers refused to cooperate with their investigation. Ensuring that club workers would provide assistance - and surveillance video - to police was a key topic at a followup hearing last month, when Matov sought permission to re-open.
As he did at last month's hearing, Matov apologized. He said he did not know why the guy he's long employed to handle the surveillance cameras had not provided video to police, but promised to get it to them and the board by Thursday, when the board votes on whether the April 30 gunfire could have been prevented and, if so, what punishment to mete out.
Board regulations prohibit license holders from sitting on unused licenses, although the board usually grants some leniency in giving license holders time to sell them off - at prices that can now top $400,000.
The nightclub started - and is still officially licensed as - the Russian Benevolent Society, which provided meals and beverages from the old country for Russian immigrants, but Matov gradually converted the former industrial space into a nightclub that, in addition to the occasional shootings, has had problems for years.