Reclaiming space

Reclaiming space

The sidewalk in front of 450 Commercial St is being extended. My non-expert assessment is that the extension will create enough room for Rocco's Cucina to apply for a sidewalk dining permit.

This hypothetical permit would be different from the curbside dining program from which the North End was excluded this year. Billy Tse's and, recently, the Sail Loft are the only other restaurants in the neighborhood that are authorized for sidewalk dining as far as I know.

The sidewalk dining program (PDF) is limited to establishments with sidewalks wide enough to allow for five feet of clear width (in most neighborhoods) after the requisite fencing, planters, or other barriers surrounding the tables are in place.

Some might bemoan the loss of parking spaces. To them I would say:

  • This space is better when it is actively used, and...
  • No actual parking spaces are being lost

No parking spaces lost

While it's generally assumed that any empty curb space is fair game for car storage, the frontage along 450 Commercial Street has:

  1. A fire hydrant
  2. A curb cut for a garage (which no longer exists)

...neither of which it is legal to park in front of. Remember, Rocco's used to be a garage:

Public notice for auction of 450 Commercial Street which was "mostly garage space" with two overhead doors

You can clearly see the hydrant and curb cut in the 2014 Connect Historic Boston construction plans:

Existing hydrant and curb cut prevent (legal) car parking in front of 450 Commercial St

Street view from shortly after the CHB project was completed also confirms the conditions that this project is replacing.

Conditions at 450 Commercial prior to sidewalk extension show a curb cut and hydrant

I wish Mr. & Mrs. Zagarella the best if they indeed end up pursuing sidewalk dining here. It would be a great use of that space.

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