Wake-Up Call: Trouble's brewing at the Beauvallon

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The back of the Beauvallon, Craig Nassi's monumental mess, is now wrapped in scaffolding and fabric, like a Christo construction looming over the Golden Triangle. But the art of this deal isn't pretty. The building is in receivership, and the last three retail tenants -- who dared to complain about what ongoing repair work would do to their business -- have now received eviction notices.

I was at Aviano Coffee, at 955 Lincoln Street, on Wednesday, and heard firsthand from owner Doug Naiman about how tough it is to run a business in a ghost building, how even long-time customers find it difficult to negotiate the construction. This despite the fact that this summer, receiver Eric Grothe assured the remaining clients that "construction should be positive... the restaurants, coffee shops, things like that should do better during that period." Why? All those hard hat-wearing workers will mean "more activity, more people down here," Grothe said.

But those hard-hat-wearing workers weren't enough to save the last of the restaurants, which closed in July. And last week, the only tenants remaining were a salon, a tiny boutique and Aviano. "When this scaffolding goes up over my business, what's it going to look like to people walking by, driving by?" Naiman asked. "It's going to look like a place that's closed, or difficult to get to. My business is based on convenience. If I can't provide that, I'm done."

But he won't go down without a fight. Coffee's on right now at Aviano.

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