A demolition crew on May 16 began tearing down the building at 28 E. Burlington St. in downtown Riverside, a structure that had been part of the central business district for the better part of a century.
Most recently, the building had served as home to a notorious pill mill whose doctors – one of whom is due to be sentenced to federal prison in August after being convicted of insurance fraud — allegedly doled out powerful opioid painkillers by the hundreds of thousands to patients throughout the state and beyond.
But before that era the building was heavily used by Riverside residents. Built in 1930, the building served as the post office before being enlarged in 1948 and converted for commercial use, according to building records.
In the 1950s into the 1970s, the building housed a grocery store. John Furstoss moved his grocery business from the Arcade Building to the site in 1957. After Furstoss’ death, Bill Jansky operated Bill’s Finer Foods at 28 E. Burlington St. for 16 years.
It was later purchased by Dr. Hatem Galal, who converted it into medical offices. When Galal retired, he rented the space to Dr. Joseph Giacchino, who operated Riverside Pain Management there from 2013 to early 2017. The building had sat vacant since that time.
Patrick Leone’s company, Lion Development II, purchased the building last year for $350,000. He also owns the building immediately to the east at 30 E. Burlington St.
Asked about plans for the properties, Leone told the Landmark last week he has no immediate plans for the former pain clinic, nor does he plan to demolish 30 E. Burlington St. at this time.
Leone had expressed interest in purchasing the former PNC Bank building at 40 E. Burlington St., but St. Mary Parish purchased the property in order to convert it into parish offices. That renovation is expected to get under way this summer.
Complicating development of Leone’s properties is the fact that St. Mary’s has an easement at 30 E. Burlington St., a holdover from the days when the bank used a driveway as an exit for its drive-thru.
Together the properties at 28 and 30 E. Burlington St. comprise about 26,000 square feet and 125 feet of street frontage in Riverside’s central business district.