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Al Fresco Dining Meets Downtown Parking
by Kendra Baker | Sep 13, 2013 12:36 pm
Posted to: Arts & Culture, Dining, Transportation
City officials parked themselves on Crown Street Thursday afternoon not by pulling up to the curb and feeding a meter, but by taking seats under an umbrella—on a fancy new “Parking Terrasse.”
Mayor John DeStefano, Jr., traffic tsar Jim Travers, economic development chief Kelly Murphy, and Meat & Co. owner John Ginnetti revealed the latest addition to the Complete Streets movement—the Parking Terrasse—Thursday at 120 Crown St.
“This is our first attempt at really doing something different with parking spaces,” said Travers, who met with Ginnetti, the owner of Meat & Co., to discuss how they could engage the community and “really create a sense of urban contemporary lifestyle” on Crown Street, where Ginnetti’s business is located.
They decided to place the Parking Terrasse—a parking space, cordoned off by large planters and set up with café tables for al fresco dining—in front of Ginnetti’s sandwich shop for a one-month trial run.
Travers came up with the idea for the city after seeing it in action in Montreal.
“You’ll see nearly blocks filled with restaurants that take up spaces just like this, and the sense of community that exists there is really what we’re looking for,” said Travers.
Sidewalks have gotten busy, said the mayor, and they are “actually stages that people want to sit on and do things on.”
“What businesses and people have told us they wanted is to be able to be outdoors, and what Jim and the Transportation, Traffic and Parking have done is say, ‘Let’s use parking spaces differently,’” said DeStefano. “The streets don’t just serve cars—they serve people.”
Ginnetti agreed with the mayor that people want to be outdoors, and said he wanted his customers to enjoy themselves and have the outside be a part of their experience.
“Sitting on the street, eating a sandwich is something we can do in a place where just a few years ago ... it was very dark and sort of foreboding. Before we’d open, we always had our doors locked,” said Ginnetti. “I’m proud to be part of a city where the sidewalk isn’t something we fear, but something we celebrate.”
DeStefano also spoke briefly about how the city has changed.
“Cities are different than they used to be 20 and 30 years ago—even 10 years ago here,” said DeStefano. “We’ve got density and we ought to promote it. Using spaces differently is an important part of that.”
DeStefano said he sees no problem using parking spaces for innovations like the Parking Terrasse because “this is what people want to use the downtown for.”
“We’ve got plenty of space—we’re not going to turn over hundreds of thousands of spaces,” he said. “I think people like built space. I think they like active use of sidewalks. I think that’s why they come downtown.”
Murphy said part of the new Parking Terrasse initiative is to build vibrancy.
“People want to come to exciting and interesting places,” said Murphy, who referred to the city’s parking problem as a “problem of good,” since, she said, it means people want to be here.
Travers said he would love to see other restaurants take advantage of this new parking initiative. He is also looking to make structured facilities—where he said the city would rather have cars located—more inviting, in order to “create the vibrancy that’s going to exist on the street.”
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Great work! There’s an even better, permanent, one coming to Whitney & Audubon soon.
We need a lot more of these, particularly on streets where the sidewalks are too narrow. There are some good spots on Chapel from Orange to Church, Chapel from York to Park, Grand in Fair Haven, Orange St, Crown, and elsewhere.
Unfortunately they don’t work well on wide streets like Church, Elm, and George (which were converted from city streets into what are essentially high speed highways, under McGrath in the 1950s) but that’s all the more reason to narrow these streets and/or convert them back into two way streets.
This project, an idea mostly from the past decade, exemplifies why it will take energetic and visionary leaders to get this done in New Haven.
There’s no additional cost to projects like this that improve our city, reduce the cost of living, and grow jobs and tax revenue - there’s only vision and political will.
Nice job Traffic Tsar! This is awesome, being able to try new uses for spaces. Bike corrals next, please! I’m glad that Travers has say in what we do with our spaces, and we don’t have to bargain with a third party.
If this particular space doesn’t work out, maybe another will. I’m glad to see the willingness to try these ideas out. The changes made to Columbus Circle, Madison Square Park, and around Penn Station in NYC show that in some circumstances extending the utility of street space pays off nicely.
posted by: BenBerkowitz on September 13, 2013 8:12am
Awesome work Jim and John G! Very impressed with Johnny D’s last hoorahs. A lot of good stuff coming out of City Hall second semester senior year ;)
Please comment here if you would like the NHI to ask Justin Elicker and Toni Harp if they will keep or replace Jim Travers, if they become mayor…and don’t let them off without a real answer!
At one of the debates, candidates were asked whether they would retain certain key city officials in their jobs. Dubois-Walton and Murphy were mentioned, Jim Travers wasn’t.
NHI runs a story on something Travers has done to improve transportation in this city at least once a month, if not more.
Next step…eliminate 99% of one way streets in New Haven.
Awesome. My wife and I love NH food, but for years we have wondered, why the dearth of outdoor dining options?
Mr. Travers, can I suggest we try something similar at the triangle of concrete between Mezcal and Rice Pot? Someone (at SeeClickFix I believe) has already drawn up a proposal for very minor (essentially free) traffic adjustments and such. Regardless, that mess of redundant asphalt screams out for a larger pocket park in combination with this al fresco dining experiment. That is, until Jessica Holmes is voted out and the Star Supply development can move forward.
Luv, candidates have provided a local nonprofit with great detail on their own positions regarding transportation:
EastRock, who is going to run against Holmes and fight for housing? Maybe Ella Wood will run in Ward 9? Unlike Ella, Holmes isn’t in lockstep with the DTC on everything, and Ella says that safety and gentrification are the top concern. If Ella is serious about that then she should move to 9 now and challenge Holmes for failing to recognize that housing construction is the only way that our city is ever going to get safer and more affordable. We need people who can advocate for lower costs and lower crime to benefit immigrants, young people, and people in Fair Haven, not just the wealthy, middle-aged Holmes supporters in central East Rock who want more parking spots.
posted by: BenBerkowitz on September 13, 2013 10:06am
I love the idea of this by RicePot! I think that is was one of the commenters here that gave the drawings for SCF actually.
Jim Travers, I love what is happening there!!.
I will send you and invitation to come over my neighborhood. And talk about the project that I have been asking you questions since last November,about the corners of the school of Christoper Columbus (Fair Haven) We have a lot of business that will help and give a HUGE turn around in the corners of Grand Avenue and Blatchley Ave. The school will receive a great improvement especially on public safety, quality of life and the many businesses around will have a great potential to expand and offer their services in a most friendly environment.
I can have some businesses, parents, school principal and community member involve. We had being talking about this project for a while. We need support. The parents of Ms. Benitez are getting ready for their next community clean up I will love if you can be there to listen their ideas.
Holmes may not be voting 100% in lockstep with the DTC, but her loyalty to the union supermajority is fairly transparent - she endorsed Ms. Wood’s candidacy.
Seeing what works elsewhere and exploring its utility here.
Canada is a good place for ideas.
So is Europe.
Never been to Mexico or South America but there as well.
Don’t really care if other folk enjoy eating in the middle of traffic noise, street dirt, carbon monoxide, and whatever washes down the Chapel Street gutters but I am definitely too old to enjoy it,
Maybe OK for the Yalies,
Even the Mayor ,as shown above, seems in a hazardous position ,with usually hustling Chapel Street cars only a few inches from his back (or was traffic stopped to set up this photo op?)
Except for the Mayor’s publicity pose, even the other celebrants in the photos seem to have gathered on the sidewalk. avoiding the gutter eating area (Owners could have at least swept the gutter before taking pictures)
I would expect that the very picky and, it seems, incorruptible, restaurant inspectors, featured often in the Independent giving out detrimental points for the tiniest of infractions, either have, or will soon develop, rules re pigeons, dog droppings and road debris.
Suggest the owners also consider liability insurance to protect themselves in case eaters are hit by stray drivers or bikists distracted by the diners in the streets
OK by me, but look forward to a follow- up,
Can you please confirm for the media that your are, in fact, the villian from the old Scooby Doo cartoons?
Those Troublemaking Kids