The Community Connection

Downtown liquor store closes

- By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-centurymed­ia. com @PottstownN­ews on Twitter

POTTSTOWN » It looks like the borough will soon be losing its only downtown liquor store.

Located for the last 15 years in the former Levitz building at 212 E. High St., the Pennsylvan­ia Liquor Control Board has failed to come to terms on a new lease with the building’s owner, Scott Bentley.

Bentley, whose high-tech company Video-Ray occupies the rest of the downtown building, said the lease was in place when he bought the building and it expired in the summer of 2019.

“There was a clause that if neither side acted, it would be renewed every three months. We kept contacting them about a new lease, but they just ignored us,” Bentley said.

Finally, negotiatio­ns began and in December, he and the store’s representa­tives came to an agreement on a new five-year lease.

“But it had to be approved in Harrisburg and that was going to take months,” he said. “Then in March, they just reneged.”

“They came back to us and said we’ll only pay this price, lower than the one we had negotiated, take it or leave it, so I left it,” Bentley said.

“It seems like they prefer suburban locations now, which means people who live downtown can’t walk to the liquor store,” Bentley said.

Elizabeth Brassell, director of policy and communicat­ions for the PCLB, responded to a Mercury query late Wednesday by noting simply, “the PLCB has not yet made a decision whether to close its downtown Pottstown store, renew its existing lease or serve this community through another Fine Wine & Good Spirits location.”

Peggy Lee-Clark, executive director of PAID, the borough’s economic developmen­t agency, said she took the news in stride.

“We’ll get something better,” she said. “It’s a good space and it’s in good shape.”

Lee-Clark said that on the one hand, she understood the PCLB’s position, noting she did not believe the store did a particular­ly high volume of business “or brought a high volume of customers to downtown.”

But on the other hand, as an agency in a government whose general policy is to promote the financial health of Pennsylvan­ia’s downtowns, the move becomes harder to justify.

Lee-Clark also recognized that for the restaurant­s downtown without a liquor license, the store’s departure removes the option for diners to walk down the street and pick up a bottle of wine.

But she noted that Pottstown is also home to several local distilling and brewing companies and that they may be able to provide alternativ­es for those restaurant­s “that help support other Pottstown businesses.”

 ??  ??
 ?? EVAN BRANDT — MEDIANEWS GROUP ?? The state liquor store has been located at 212E. High St. for the past 15years.
EVAN BRANDT — MEDIANEWS GROUP The state liquor store has been located at 212E. High St. for the past 15years.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States