Wednesday’s Strib had an article titled In St. Paul’s Lowertown, move to widen sidewalk is afoot; The plan would allow more outdoor dining, but some fear a parking crunch in the district. It’s a good illustration of how issues of downtown parking can bump up against what makes for a vibrant street. Some excerpts:
Dave Brooks and Jim Crockarell, who own the buildings on 6th Street across from Mears Park, want the city to nearly double the width of the front sidewalk to create a promenade for outdoor cafe seating. They lease to some of downtown’s most popular hangouts — the Barrio and Bulldog restaurants and Bin on the Park wine bar — and Crockarell believes more draws could be on the way if outdoor seating were extended.
And on the other side of the issue:
But many Lowertown residents and businesses, already worried about a parking squeeze they fear will come with the opening of the Saints ballpark in 2015, are against the plan. They’re worried about noise, congestion and pressure they’ll face with up to 22 street parking spaces taken to make room for the wider sidewalk and a new bus/bike traffic lane. Longtime Lowertown developer John Mannillo, who’s leading opposition to the proposal, said it would alter the district’s circa-1870 street grid and change building setbacks.
Are ‘popups’ a viable alternative?
Coleman also isn’t necessarily opposed to an idea that Mannillo is pushing — trying out the sidewalk cafe concept first with temporary wooden platforms that could be installed on a seasonal basis and remove as needed. But Brooks and Crackarell won’t pay for temporary extensions, Repke said. A pilot installation was tried a couple of years ago, but they didn’t like the way it looked or the work required to use it. “They don’t want to have to buy a chunk of wood they would have to store,” Repke said. The pop-ups, as they’re called, would cost $73,000 and installation no more than $20,000 annually, Mannillo said. “We’re only going to be using it for, what, four months of the year,” he said. “Besides, people prefer to sit on wood rather than concrete. It’s not as hot on the hot days.”
Here are three photos of ‘popup’s I took a few years ago on a trip to Italy: