Selectmen Reverse Decision on Closure of Bottom of Greenwich Ave

After a special hearing on Oct 27 for feedback from residents and merchants about the closure of the bottom block of Greenwich Ave (between Grigg Street and Railroad Ave), the message was clear.

Outdoor dining at lunchtime in front of Le Pain Quotidian. Thursday, Nov 12, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

While the original intent was to bolster restaurants during the pandemic, retailers and tenants said they were struggling, and landlords said they were having difficulty finding retail tenants.

Initially the Selectmen, who serve as the town’s traffic authority, had voted in June to close two full blocks of the Avenue to create a pedestrian mall with outdoor dining.

Concrete Jersey barriers across Greenwich Avenue at Havemeyer by the old post office cut off the lower two blocks of the Ave to vehicular traffic. June 1, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

Pushback was immediate, and the block that includes Zyn’s News & Cigars, Petticoat Lane, the Apple Store and Richards reopened.

This week Ron Cavalier said he was relocating Cavalier Ebanks Galleries from 405 Greenwich Ave to 175 Greenwich Avenue after 26 years in response to the closure.

Camillo met in person with retailers and landlords at the bottom of the Ave in mid-September. They told him they were struggling.

Merchants said they do much of their business during Christmas and the holiday season and relied on parking being available on the Ave.

Tenants in apartments on lower Greenwich Ave said they vied for the same limited parking to unload groceries and laundry.

Handicapped and mobility impaired residents said they needed to be dropped off to dine and couldn’t walk several blocks.

Outdoor seating at South Bay at lunchtime, Thursday, Nov 12, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

Take out customers, as well as Grub Hub and Uber Eats drivers need a place to park albeit briefly.

Merchants lamented that while the closure was great for restaurants in the evening, seating was mostly empty throughout the day.

And so, on Thursday, Dept of Public Works deputy commissioner Jim Michel proposed a “node system” to replicate what is working on the rest of Greenwich Ave.

Outdoor dining at lunchtime in front of East End. Thursday, Nov 12, 2020 Photo: Leslie Yager

The timing dovetails with the Governor’s executive order 9K, which extends outdoor dining through February 9, 2021.

Mr. Michel said his department proposed to put in “nodes” for restaurants with outdoor dining permits, which include:

Mediterraneo
Harvest
Steam
Little Beet Table
Le Pain Quotidian
East End
South Bay
Abis
Putnam Restaurant

“We’ll have nodes, either shared or individual, for each of those locations,” Michel continued, adding that the reversal would restore 21 parking spaces and one additional handicapped spot.

He said there would remain adequate space for the restaurants to offer outdoor dining and retain an outdoor presence.

Mr. Michel said DPW had tentatively scheduled the reopening of the block and creation of the nodes as early as Friday morning.

“It shows that we are listening to the community about their concerns and will allow, particularly for the holiday season, a really important step,” said Select person Jill Oberlander.

Mr. Michel clarified said there were approximately 45 parking spaces were originally lost by the closure, and the reopening would restore about half of them.

“The whole atmosphere doesn’t change doing this down there,” First Selectman Camillo said. “We’re making sure what’s been very popular will remain.”

The Selectmen voted unanimously to approve the reopening of the lower portion of Greenwich Avenue to allow an update for parking between Grigg St and Railroad Ave.

See also:

Cavalier Ebanks Galleries Relocates to the Heart of Greenwich Avenue

Nov 10, 2020

As Cold Weather Approaches, Greenwich Ave Road Closures for Outdoor Dining Are Reconsidered

Oct 27, 2020

Greenwich’s Restaurant Row Expands Outdoor Dining to Elm Street

Aug 22, 2020

(Selectmen Modify Greenwich Ave Vehicle Closure; Diane’s Books Says “We Will Not Survive”

June 16, 2020

Camillo, Floren Lead CT Lt Governor Bysiewicz down Lower Greenwich Ave, Closed to Cars

June 1, 2020