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    Category: Restaurant Construction

    City Grill to close due to construction; owners hoping to eventually reopen – WXXI News - November 27, 2019 by admin

    A popular East End restaurant in Rochester is closing, at least for now. A notice on the website for City Grill, at the corner of East Avenue and Alexander Street, says the restaurant will be closing its doors on Thursday, after what the notice says was a beautiful 5 year run.

    The note says that the decision was made by the owners and management because of complications related to the construction of a new hotel, at what is now the East Avenue Inn and Suites.

    Developers are planning a new Courtyard by Marriott at that site. They broke ground on the project in October, with completion expected in October 2020.

    The owners of City Grill say that they hope to eventually be able to re-open next to the new hotel.

    The event spaces at Ballroom 384 will continue to be active. The note from City Grill says they are hoping that the renovation work at that corner will be a catalyst for the re-branding of the East Ave. and Alexander St. area.

    A statement from City Hall spokesman Justin Roj, said that, "We eagerly await the reopening of the City Grill upon completion of the Marriott hotel on the adjacent property. We understand that the ongoing construction has greatly impacted the restaurant's parking and access to the site. However, the ownership team's investment in the new hotel and their plans to reopen the restaurant demonstrate the continued economic growth in the East End and throughout Downtown Rochester."

    Roj also said that the City of Rochester issued a loan in 2011 to the owners of the City Grill that was paid off in full in 2017.

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    City Grill to close due to construction; owners hoping to eventually reopen - WXXI News

    More Hotel And Mid-Rise Apartment Construction Is On The 2020 Gainesville Horizon – WUFT - November 27, 2019 by admin

    The building has sat empty for more than three years, southwest of Gainesvilles downtown restaurant and nightlife area, but a developer now has its eyes on the Jones B-Side restaurant property.

    Trimark Properties in September submitted plans to tear down the abandoned building, 203 SW Second Ave., and in its place build a five-story student apartment building.

    There will be 106 bedrooms with more than 6,000 square feet of non-residential space likely to be used as retail space. The plans also mention scooter parking and bike spaces.

    The Jones had a temporary closure March 2016 to deal with inspection violations from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. The health inspector that month found 11 live roaches.

    It closed for good in September 2016 after four years on SW Second Avenue and has sat empty since.

    News of the pending redevelopment was met with mixed opinions from people and businesses in the downtown area. Some believe that there should be more affordable housing, instead of just catering to students.

    If there was affordable housing with a preschool underneath, that could actually make a difference, Alexandra Wright, a barista at Volta Coffee, Tea & Chocolate, said.

    One of her colleagues agreed.

    We dont need another Standard, Soren Brady-Bender said, referring to the 10-story apartment building that radically altered the intersection of University Avenue and U.S. 441 when its construction began four years ago. It opened in 2017.

    There are people who are open to the development.

    I think thatd be great just for more people to move downtown. Be good for business here as well, said Andrew Kimbler, manager at the Five Star Pizza location across Southwest Second Avenue from the lot.

    More foot traffic to around downtown would be nice.

    Concerns about parking emerged in conversations with other downtown business employees, too. More people living closer to downtown might mean fewer parking spaces and worsened traffic, Kristie Mitchell said. Shes a manager at Naga Tea, a block and a half north of The Jones location.

    I think the hardest thing around here is for parking, Mitchell said. No matter where youre at, the parking situation is crazy.

    The project is currently listed as under review on the citys development projects website, with Trimark earlier this month getting approval from the Gainesville City Commission to change Southwest Second Streets status from a storefront street to a local urban zone street for the project to move forward.

    The Jones redevelopment, The Standard, and a dozen other mid-rise buildings are notable for the impact theyre having on Gainesvilles modest skyline.

    Its one destined to see some major changes in the next few years.

    Plans, for example, to build new student apartments on the vacant lot on 403 SW 13th St. are also underway. EDA Inc. has proposed an eight-story building with three levels of parking and five residential stories with 66 units and 182 bedrooms.

    Plans call for more scooter parking and bike storage, plus another 9,000 square feet of office and retail space.

    Construction on the Southwest 13th Street building should be completed by 2021 in the best-case scenario, according to the neighborhood meeting minutes from July 11. It, too, is under review, according to the citys website.

    The vacant lot used to have the Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity house on it, but it was demolished in August 2018. The new building will stand alongside the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority house and across the street from the University of Floridas College of the Art.

    EDA Inc. has been involved in major development projects in Gainesville, including the Fairfield Inn & Suites hotel on Southwest 37th Boulevard and The Ridge apartment complex on Southwest 24th Avenue.

    Across the intersection from The Jones property, the citys process of turning Lot 10 into a hotel is still in the works.

    That statement has been true for the better part of a decade, and so while some may be worried that development has stalled once again for Lot 10, city planners and the developers are moving through the review process to build the hotel, according to Erik Bredfeldt, the citys economic development director.

    Should they continue to move forward, closing on a sale of the site could come in early 2020 with construction following soon afterward.

    The Gainesville City Commission in May voted to sell Lot 10 on 100 SW 1st Ave. for $2.3 million.

    The hotel plans consist of a six-story building with over 100 rooms.

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    More Hotel And Mid-Rise Apartment Construction Is On The 2020 Gainesville Horizon - WUFT

    Heard on the Street: Look for smoke to signal opening of Rochester’s newest restaurant – - November 27, 2019 by admin

    Smoke rising from a new red stack over northwest Rochester next week will signal the firing up of Med City's newest restaurant.

    Smoak, described as "a true barbecue joint," is slated to open its doors and heat up its two oak-burning smokers, on Dec. 3 at2291 Commerce Dr. NW.

    A staff of about 40 started training this week in the 5,600-square-foot restaurant, which seats about 200.

    The name comes from the two "massive" meat smokers that will burn only oak wood 18 hours a day to produce smoked beef, pork, chicken, turkey and salmon for the restaurant. The owners say that 80 percent of Smoak's menu will come out of the aromatic smokers.

    Smoked prime beef brisket will be a signature Smoak offering, with a $1 donation going to Rochester's Hope Lodge for every pound sold. In addition to traditional pulled pork and ribs, the menu also includes smoked bacon, Smoak's own burgers, tacos, jalapeno cheddar sausage and special sandwiches such as the Tornado, which features brisket, pork sausage and haystack onions.

    Smoak is the latest project for Rochester's Rocket Restaurant Group. Rocket, founded by four 1997 John Marshall High School graduates, created The Loop Bar and Grill and the Five West Kitchen and Bar in Rochester plus three more restaurants in the Twin Cities.

    Smoak is just north of Rocket's Five West.

    Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips to or via Twitter to @whereskiger. You can call him at 285-7798.

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    Heard on the Street: Look for smoke to signal opening of Rochester's newest restaurant -

    PHOTOS: Construction Continues on Spider-Man Ride and the MARVEL… – - November 27, 2019 by admin

    This post may contain affiliate links; please read the disclosure for more information.

    Just a few days ago, we visited Disneyland Paris to check out all of the new entertainment and such for the holiday season at the resort, but we also caught a glimpse at the ongoing construction of the MARVEL Avengers Campus area of the park.

    Most of the Backlot area is closed except for Restaurant Des Stars, which will eventually become an Ant-Man themed eatery. Behind the walls, we can see work continuing on the Spider-Man attraction. The Armageddon attraction was completely leveled for this new addition.

    This is the very same Spider-Man ride that is also being build at Disney California Adventure, but it is set to open next year there.

    Guests heading to this side of the park are greeted by construction walls and directional signage. We saw many, many guests go down this way thinking they were going to ride Rock N Roller Coaster, only to realize it was gone when they walked into a dead end.

    You are practically in an active construction zone when you walk down here. Pieces of concrete were being lifted into place just feet away from us while we waited to be seated at the restaurant.

    Restaurant des Stars remains open, even though the canopy was ripped off.

    I wanted to film a time-lapse of guests going up to these walls and turning around, but I was short on time. You get the idea from this picture of confused guests though.

    The facade of Rock N Roller Coaster avec Aerosmith is long gone. It will become an Iron Man roller coaster, but it was almost a Spider-Man one.

    This giant crane is just a few feet away from guests.

    This man was no more than 15 feet away from me, if even.

    The MARVEL themed area (Avengers Campus) of Walt Disney Studios Paris set to open in 2021.


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    PHOTOS: Construction Continues on Spider-Man Ride and the MARVEL... -

    New construction project to break ground early 2020 in The Village of West Greenville – Upstate Business Journal - November 27, 2019 by admin

    The Village of West Greenvilles first new commercial construction in decades is less than two months from breaking ground while various new restaurants and retailers have opened or are near opening.

    A project by Henry and Harrison Horowitz, the new 2,092-square-foot, two-story building will be constructed at 578 Perry Ave. on land next to Kuka Juice. The Horowitzes own multiple other buildings in the Village, including the Kuka Juice building and the adjoining Textile Hall.

    Originally, they bought the land next to Kuka Juice so they could commission a mural on the side of the building and wouldnt risk its view being blocked should someone else decide to build there. Those plans have since changed, with a new mural by local artist Dorothy Shain to be painted across both current Kuka Juice and Textile Hall white storefronts facing the plaza.

    The new construction, with a custom ironwork gate between the old and new buildings, will have its own elements of local art, which has been a primary focus of the Horowitz family, with Henry Horowitzs founding Artisphere in 2003. A six-by-two-by-10-foot window box on the front right of the storefront will feature rotating art installations that will be lit at night. Steps away is the most recently commissioned Artisphere sculpture in the plaza.

    And while the building is new construction, Harrison Horowitz says the goal is for it to look otherwise.

    The idea is for people to drive by and think the building has been here for years, he says.

    To accomplish that, they are sourcing reclaimed brick from an old Maytag appliance warehouse and laying them in various historically used patterns. Theyll also be installing black steel casement windows, similar to Coastal Crusts windows half a block away.

    Each floor is 1,046 square feet with the first floor under contract with a local barbershop tenant. The second floor, with a separate entrance on the side facing the soon-to-be-completed Poe West development, will be office space. Leasing efforts are being handled by Rakan Draz and John Odom of Avison Young.

    Meanwhile, all along Pendleton Street and throughout the Village, other retail and restaurant tenants are moving in.

    Amazing Grace Hemp Company opened the first week of November at 1284 Pendleton St. Designed to be a community hang-out to encourage discussion about personal health and wellness, the shop is owned by Nate Phillips, whose brother Stephen Phillips is a partner in the soon-to-open Exile Bar in the West End. The shop sells CBD products, hemp, kratom, and many other items from brands curated specifically for their high quality, Nate Phillips says.

    Health is not an individual idea, he says. I want this to be a community center type of space.

    Dobra Tea, next door at 1278 Pendleton, began upfit in early October and continues to move forward toward an early 2020 opening of the global tea house brand.

    Hookah lounge [emailprotected], at 1237 Pendleton St., has planned grand opening festivities for Nov. 22-23 in the space that formerly housed Tipsy Music Pub and Dr. Mac Arnolds Blues Restaurant. The legendary blues musician himself will be performing a show at his old spot on Dec. 14. [emailprotected] is a Charlotte-based concept from Darren Jaz Vincent that will serve global cuisine in a vintage environment.

    Golden Brown & Delicious will be moving later this year from its home at 1269 Pendleton St. to The Commons food hall at 147 Welborn St. and chef/owner Alex George will expand the bar, Bar Mars, into the restaurant dining room while working to open a new concept in the space.

    Poe West, the 60,000-square-foot mixed-use development at 556 Perry Ave., continues to move forward with construction and some tenant spaces are expected to be completed early 2020. Anchor tenant Greenville Technical College Center for Culinary and Hospitality Innovation (CHI) plans to move in early summer. Other restaurant tenants include Carolina Bauernhaus, LaRue Fine Chocolate, Unlocked Coffee Roasters and Six & Twenty Distillery.

    The Village of West Greenville was recently featured in a article titled, Fives places

    The Junkyard, a group fitness training center owned by former Clemson University standout linebacker Ben

    The vacant restaurant space at 1237 Pendleton St. in the Village of West Greenville has

    Abbey West was recently promoted to media buyer at Infinity Marketing. West joined the agency

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    New construction project to break ground early 2020 in The Village of West Greenville - Upstate Business Journal

    Construction Begins on Massive Midtown Union Development and Future Invesco HQ – What Now Atlanta - November 27, 2019 by admin

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    Construction has begun on Midtown Union, a large mixed-use development in Midtown at Spring and 17thStreets.

    The official groundbreaking ceremony is scheduled for December 9, at 1295 Spring Street, according to a press release Monday.

    The project, designed byCooper Carry, withBrasfield & Gorrieas the general contractor, is a partnership between MetLife Investment Management, andGranite Properties commercial real estate investment, development and management company.

    Encompassing nearly a full city block and spanning 8.5 acres, the project consists of a 26-story, 606,000 square foot Class A office building, 18-story, 355-unit modern residential tower atop eight levels of parking, a 12-story, 205-key boutique lifestyle hotel, 30,000 square feet of retail, and a 635,000 square foot parking deck providing 1,909 parking spaces.

    Invescos headquarters will anchor the office building across 300,000 square feet.

    Outdoors, Midtown Union will feature an extension of Arts Center Way, a go-between connecting Spring and West Peachtree Streets. Inspired by a European boulevard, the path will create a new retail destination in Midtown with shops, restaurants and green space.

    The development will incorporate biophilic design elements like indoor vegetation, landscaped amenity decks and public green space and draws inspiration from the surrounding art community in the form of sculptures and murals.

    Indoors, StreetLights Residential, in partnership with MetLife Investment Management, will develop the upscale multifamily tower offering 355 units featuring studio, one, two and three-bedroom homes.

    The street-level lobby offers a 24-hour concierge service, coffee bar, conference lab, and co-working space. Amenities include resident storage, pet spa, fitness center, club room and an outdoor amenity deck with pool, seating and grilling stations overlooking Arts Center Way.

    Stormont Hospitality GroupandThe Allen Morris Company, in partnership with MetLife Investment Management, willdevelop the 205-room lifestyle hotel at Midtown Union, with more than 5,000 net square feet of meeting space, a destination chef-driven restaurant, and an active bar spilling out onto Arts Center Way at the corner of West Peachtree.

    Leased by JLL, the entire development is expected to open in the summer of 2022.

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    Construction Begins on Massive Midtown Union Development and Future Invesco HQ - What Now Atlanta

    Schmaltzys Deli Will Open Thursday in Freland, Finally – Eater Seattle - November 19, 2019 by admin

    North Seattles about to get a meaty new lunch spot. After more than two years of preparation (and a few construction delays), the highly anticipated Schmaltzys Delicatessen will open Thursday in the West Woodland neighborhood, an area most refer to as Frelard. The offshoot of the popular food truck Napkin Friends will serve up from-scratch pastrami sandwiches, corned beef, lox, and matzoh ball soup, along with some salads, in a cozy restaurant at 928 NW Leary Way.

    This spot will also serve as a prep space for Napkin Friends latke press sandwiches, as well as its catering operations. But there will be a robust menu at the deli itself. Owner Jonny Silverberg has been tinkering with a variety of concoctions, including a sandwich called The Flavor Bomb, with slow-roasted tri-tip, spiced tomato jam, and chimichurri, chicken parm schnitzel on challah bread, and smoked trout salad.

    Silverberg started construction on the restaurant back in October of 2017, with plans to open as early as last December. But, as with many such projects in the Seattle area, delays from permitting and general construction annoyances set things back. While it is taking considerably longer that I had hoped, the space is shaping up to look amazing and I am chomping at the bit to open and share it with everyone, Silverberg told Eater Seattle.

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    928 NW Leary Way, Seattle, WA

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    Schmaltzys Deli Will Open Thursday in Freland, Finally - Eater Seattle

    World’s first drive-thru only restaurant in Australia – Building Design + Construction - November 19, 2019 by admin

    As more customers begin to order food through online channels, a new KFC pilot project in Newcastle, Australia looks to create a more efficient operating model to keep up with this change in consumer behavior.

    Designed by FRCH NELSON with KFC SOPAC, the drive-thru only KFC features five lanes, two set up for traditional on-the-spot drive-thru orders, and three that allow customers to order and pay for a meal through the brands app or website. For online orders, customers drive up to one of the designated lanes and enter a four-digit code generated by the app on a touchscreen. Once the code is entered, the online order is sent to the kitchen where it is freshly prepared.

    The goal of the design was to create a holistic drive-thru experience that leverages architecture, communication, service, and landscape. Without having the benefit of a public-facing interior, FRCH NELSON had to find other opportunities to display and celebrate the KFC brand on the buildings exterior, which leverages natural materials in conjunction with steel and glazing.

    See Also:The Whale will be an arctic attraction 185 miles north of the Arctic Circle

    A large halo-lit Colonel Sanders layered atop the buildings wood-clad walls greets guests and the drive thru portal uses bold architecture to create a beacon for the experience. With traditional restaurants, the building is the experience, but with this new concept it became a fixture one element supporting the overall experience, said Marty McCauley, Design Director at FRCH NELSON, in a release. We had to utilize every exterior touchpoint from the landscaping, to the signage, to the architecture of the drive-thru portal, to create a holistic experience for guests.

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    World's first drive-thru only restaurant in Australia - Building Design + Construction

    These SF Restaurateurs Could Lose Everything Due to the Citys Mistake – Eater SF - November 19, 2019 by admin

    To see the latest on this case, click here.

    When Dennis Cantwell and Monica Wong decided to open a restaurant in San Francisco, their neighborhood of the Outer Sunset was their first and only choice. We didnt want to open anywhere else, Cantwell says. The Sunset is one of the only real communities left in the city.

    The pair thought theyd found the perfect spot in a shuttered store at the corner of Irving Street and 42nd Avenue, and as Cantwell put it did everything right, confirming with San Franciscos Planning Commission, the district supervisor, and other local small business agencies that there were no barriers to their project before they signed a lease. The city issued building permits for the project, and construction began.

    We were ahead of schedule, Cantwell says, when the unexpected occurred: a dispute over the meaning of a newish piece of legislation ironically, intended to help small businesses caused the city to revoke the businesss building permits after issuing them. Construction, legally, had to stop, and now its up to the citys Board of Appeals to decide if Cantwell and Wong can move forward, or if they need to start the entire process over again something that Cantwell says they might not be able to afford.

    The building at 4055 Irving has been a market or a corner store since the 1940s (heres a photo), with many names over the years. In 2017, the stores current owners put it up for sale. Eventually, it shuttered completely. According to an email from the broker representing the store, at least four known quantities in San Franciscos nightlife world inquired about the space, with one confirming to Eater SF that expected costs for renovation dissuaded them from making an offer.

    But to Cantwell and Wong, it was perfect. Between the two of them, the married couple have worked in spots including Zuni Cafe, A16, and Nopa (where Cantwell was wine director for seven years), and had long fantasized about opening their own place. Speaking with Eater SF, Cantwell said that the plan was to operate from noon to 9 p.m. on weeknights, maybe staying open until 10 p.m. on weekends. (Area laws would prohibit the business from operating later than that.)

    Deciding on the name of Palm City Wines (Palm City was, for a brief time in the late 1800s, the nickname for the area, according to the Western Neighborhoods Project), Cantwell and Wong began to plot a menu he calls grandma food. Really simple, old-school braises, stews, and home-y dishes, Cantwell says. They hoped to transform the space into a neighborhood corner spot. But that was before they realized that some folks in the neighborhood might not want them.

    When Cantwell and Wong started investigating the work it would take to transform a shuttered corner store into a restaurant, city officials told them about some legislation that the Board of Supervisors had recently passed. Introduced in 2018 by then-District 4 Supervisor Katy Tang and District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai, the two-year pilot program sought to shorten the permitting process for small businesses by eliminating the requirement to notify neighborhood residents if certain types of use changes were planned as Hoodline reported at the time, such as those for businesses seeking to convert a space...from a retail establishment to a restaurant.

    Tangs office told Cantwell and Wong that the legislation applied to a business like theirs, and other than the neighborhood notification required by the states Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control for a license to serve and sell beer and wine (a notification that Cantwell and Wong indeed sent), they were good to move forward. (Tang, who is no longer in office, confirmed that discussion with Eater SF.)

    This is an important thing to note: The Planning Department agreed, approving a change of use for the space in June. Cantwell and Wong successfully applied for a Small Business Administration loan, spent over $7,000 on building permits for the space, and pooled our life savings to put down a deposit with a contractor well known for the renovation of restaurant spaces like Dear Inga. Wong cut back her hours at her teaching job, and Cantwell quit his job completely.

    Cantwell and Wong began work as soon as the permits were issued on June 18. Then, an area resident sent a letter to city officials questioning the permits validity, and on October 15, the city suspended their permits, and construction ceased.

    The original permits were issued in error, Planning said in a postcard sent to area residents. According to Planning, the new legislation which is known as the Small Business Attraction Ordinance Program doesnt apply to 4055 Irving Street after all. They are now saying that Cantwell and Wong need to go through the process of neighborhood notification, which could take an additional four to six months. After that, assuming the neighborhood approves, they have to start from the beginning, including paying for all-new building permits. The citys policy is not to refund revoked permits, so they wont regain their initial investment of around $7,000.

    The issue is apparently the zoning on that stretch of Irving Street, which is considered by the city to be a residential district. Nearby residents argue that the legislation applies only to districts that are specifically designated as commercial, and the Planning Department agrees, admitting that the original approval was done in error. Tang, for her part, has said repeatedly that the law was intended for all businesses in her then-district, including the one at 4055 Irving Street. However, the citys lobbying laws prohibit Tang from intervening on Palm Citys behalf. In an email sent to Planning on November 4, Supervisor Safai said that Palm City is clearly a case that is meant to be impacted by our legislation. (Neither Safai nor Supervisor Gordon Mar, who currently represents D4, responded to Eater SFs request for comment.)

    Thats why Cantwell and Wong are appealing Plannings decision, which they must do through the citys Board of Appeals, the agency that hears and decides appeals involving the granting, denial, suspension, or revocation of permits, licenses, and other use entitlements by various City commissions and department.

    We never objected to doing a neighborhood notification, Cantwell says. We would have totally done that! We werent trying to hide anything, he says. But since the couple was told they didnt need to take that step by multiple city agencies, they didnt. The revocation of the building permits means that their SBA loan has been suspended, and weve spent all our working capital, Cantwell says. So convincing the Board of Appeals that the legislation does indeed apply to Palm City seems like their only way out.

    Its worth reading this cases packet (Eater SF has placed it online here), which contains the statement from Planning, Cantwell and Wongs brief explanation of the situation, and comments of support for and opposition to Plannings revised decision that a neighborhood notification process is necessary, with many saying kind things about the pair and what the business could add to the area. We are so thrilled to hear about Dennis and Monicas vision for a family-friendly community gathering space, reads one comment from a six-year resident of the area. I strongly encourage the city to support their efforts.

    There are also a number from area residents who express concerns over an alcohol business in the neighborhood, fears over drunk drivers leaving the spot, and worries that the quiet, family-oriented street will be disrupted. (Eater SF contacted a number of the opponents of Palm City Wines appeal with publicly available contact information, but none of those who responded agreed to speak on the record.)

    While none of the complaints shared by the board mention things like gentrification, its hard not to imagine thats also on the minds of some folks. If you squint, the Sunset especially Irving Street can appear untouched by the wave of change thats hit the rest of the city (though the areas million-dollar teardowns suggest that the Sunset is growing more and more attractive to the citys newer residents). Both in person and on online platforms like NextDoor, locals frequently express frustration about new restaurants in which they feel unwelcome, or that they cant afford. Others complain about increased noise and activity as alcohol-focused businesses opening on neighboring streets. Theres something unmooring about living in an area for decades, then feeling it move beneath your feet, and its hard not to feel angry and powerless when it happens. Ask anyone whose lived in the Mission for more than a couple years. Theyll tell you.

    According to Cantwell, however, thats exactly what Wong and he are trying to avoid. I want Palm City to be an extension of every Sunset residents living room, he tells Eater SF, noting that Wongs family is from the Sunset and that theyve lived in the area for the past five years. Its our goal to make sure that everyone who comes in here feels welcome and at home. There lies the rub, it seems, as now Cantwell and Wong have to in a certain sense go up against the very people they were hoping to serve. But its that, Cantwell says, or we lose everything.

    San Franciscos Board of Appeals will meet to hear both sides at 5 p.m. on November 13, in San Francisco City Halls Room 416. The meeting is open to the public, and both sides arguments can be read here.

    These SF Restaurateurs Could Lose Everything Due to the Citys Mistake - Eater SF

    How to Save Transportation in Boston: Cars – Boston magazine - November 19, 2019 by admin


    From imposing a tax on paid parking facilities to putting an end to distracted drivingBostonians dish on how to fix the city's relentless traffic.

    Additional reporting by Spencer Buell, Jacqueline Cain, Brittany Jasnoff, and Alyssa Vaughn.

    Photo by Michael Prince

    John FishChairman and CEO, Suffolk Construction

    When you think about ways to address the problem, to me congestion pricing is the lesser of multiple evils that are out there. Its least impactful to the public. The people who will be taxed for transporting during the high-peak hours are the ones who are actually using the roads and causing a lot of the challenges.

    In London, people say that congestion is down by 15 percent with congestion pricing, and greenhouse gas emissions are down by 16 percent. In Stockholm, traffic congestion has decreased by 22 percent, and childhood asthma attacks have dropped 50 percent. New York just approved congestion pricing, and I believe the result will be equal to, if not better than, Stockholm or London.

    In Boston, the impact will be substantially higher. I think data modeling will prove that this solution will have the biggest impact on congestion per dollar spent, or should I say per dollar invested. And I feel strongly that it will not have an impact on commerce. At the end of the day, its about being smart.

    Ari OfsevitProgram and communication coordinator, Charles River Transportation Management Association

    If you want to park your body at a hotel in Boston, you pay a state occupancy tax; if you park your car in a parking space, you dont. All the money goes to the garage, and none of it goes to the city. We can change that.

    Boston is pretty much the only major city in the U.S. that doesnt tax paid parking facilities. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, DC, Miami, Pittsburgh, and other cities all tax parking at a rate of 15 to 25 percent, and, in the case of Chicago, up to 40 percent. That is money that can then be put toward additional transit, or biking and walking facilitiesthings that make it easier for people not to drive.

    All thats required is a state home rule law that Boston has filed; if that were passed, cities and towns could pass commercial parking fees. I estimate that a 20 percent tax would generate more than $100 million a year. And in the long run, its a way of prompting larger developers who own surface parking lots and garages in the city to replace those empty holes with offices or housing.

    Kenny YoungPersonal driver, Kennys Car

    As a driver, you want to keep your speed down, naturally, for the safety of your clients, and you cant get into road rage.

    I drive historian David McCullough all the time. He told me one time, Pal, you never get rattled. I see people pulling out in front of you, jaywalkers, this, that. You never do. But if youre out in traffic all the time like I am, you have to go out with that mindset. Dont get aggravated. Dont get frustrated. Turn that music on and start singing at the top of your lungs and just give it a good one. Make the best out of it! Call someone. Do books on tape. If Im really gridlocked, I pull out a little slideshow on my phone of my favorite place, Boothbay Harbor, and just kind of daydream.

    Back when Michael Dukakis was governor, they used to have these bumper stickers: A little courtesy wont kill you. I want to tell Transportation Secretary Stephanie Pollack, bring those back, and you know what, have a little smiley face and a little thumbs-up. Just as a reminder.

    Photo courtesy of NECN

    Sue OConnellPolitical commentator, NECN

    We need to make it incredibly punitive to drive a gas car, both for our mobility and for our climate. We need to close parts of the city to regular car trafficparts of Boston, Cambridge, and elsewhere. We need to have higher fees for having cars, and a limit on how many cars a household or person can have. And we need to look at ways to automatically toll people for driving: If you drive a certain number of miles, you need to pay for that. That revenue can go into the cities, region, or state to make the roads more accessible to pedestrians, bicyclists, buses, and other public transport.

    Obviously, the wealthier, more affluent, privileged folks have to shoulder more of the responsibility for this. So there would be tax breaks, or income-based qualifications, so that the people at the lowest rungs are not negatively affected in their ability to get to their jobs and take care of their kids. But we have to make pedestrians number one again. Then, any vehicle that is moving multiple people. If we put pedestrians first, make it harder to drive your car, and make mass transit free, well save the world.

    Garrett HarkerRestaurateur

    Eastern Standard is a late-night restaurant. So in the past, I paid for certain peoples cab rides to have a reliable workforce after public transportation stopped running. In June, we partnered with Lyft to launch the Lyft Service Worker Access Program, and my people have used the service more than 1,100 times. Its been hugely successful at three of my restaurants, and has since been expanded to five other venues in the city. For rides from the restaurant to their home between midnight and 5 a.m., Lyft pays a third, the employee pays a third, and I pay a third. Its pretty easy, and my people are getting home safely. Thats another problem you dont hear about in the restaurant business: Weve had multiple cooks over the past couple of years whove been jumped, mugged, or stabbed. Theyre traveling at that time of night when theres bad stuff happening.

    At one point, Mayor Marty Walsh was going to activate certain MBTA routes for 24 hours. I havent heard whether or not that was considered a success. I guess not. It got shelved. If the city were more vibrant late at night, thered obviously be more economic pressure to figure out how to move people around or get them to work. But city regulations arent generally late-night-friendly. At the Hawthorne, I cant even have candles on the tables after 11 oclock.

    Photo by Photobykim

    Lee PeltonPresident, Emerson College

    We know that there are a number of incentives that we can use to reduce congestion. One is through demand and congestion pricing; another is an increased tax on gasoline. We also know that the future of transportation is electrification and decarbonization. All cities should be moving toward an electric fleet and increasing charging stations within their jurisdiction.

    We are moving in the direction of autonomous vehicles, and when we reach a critical mass, there wont be a need for us to own cars. We will subscribe to an autonomous driving service that will pick us up and take us where we need to go, and that will reduce congestion and redundancy in transportation. When theres a subscription service to autonomous driving, you wont even need parking garages, because those cars will be in service 24 hours a dayand those cars will be electric, so they will decarbonize our environment. Its three decades away, but were moving in that direction.

    Chris DempseyDirector, Transportation for Massachusetts

    Massachusetts should pilot smart tolling to reduce congestion on our existing toll roads, beginning by charging more to cross the Tobin Bridge during peak traffic hours and less at other times. Of the 10 most populous metropolitan areas in the United States, Greater Boston is the only one that does not have some version of variable pricing on at least some of its toll roads. Its long past time that we caught up with those other regions that are using this technique to better manage traffic congestion.

    When Seattle put smarter tolling on the SR 520 bridge, which is very similar to the Tobin Bridge, traffic volume reduced by 34 percentand bus ridership on that bridge increased by 38 percent. They are moving people in fewer vehicles. Meanwhile, the Tobin Bridge gets jammed up for hours every day. Smarter tolling can get traffic moving more quickly, which benefits everyone who is using that road. Its different from the cordon pricing used by London and that New York is about to implement, where you draw a ring around an area of the city and charge to drive into that ring. That has long-term benefits, but would take a long time to implement; in Boston, we could pilot smart tolling in a matter of weeks, not years. All of the infrastructure and technology is in place. The ability to charge different amounts at different times was designed into the MassDOT tolling system. Weve just never turned it on. All we need to do is put up a couple of electronic signs along the highway telling people what theyre paying.

    Ernie Boch Jr.CEO and president, Boch Enterprises

    I would put a big effort into the physical roads; they could use a little help. I think we have too many potholes. Anybody with a really nice car, a car that drives low, has to really pick their lane or pick their route when they drive around, because you could crash those cars very easily. And its not just really nice carsyou could trash a Prius going from Boston to the suburbs if the roads are bad. Now, fixing potholes would not fix the crisis. It would just make for a more pleasant experience. But if youve got to be on the expressway, and its bumper to bumper, at least give me a smooth ride.

    Courtesy Photo

    Kristen EckTraffic reporter, WBZ NewsRadio

    From 900 feet in the air, I marvel at how people are able to put up with the traffic day after day, especially going into Boston. Its amazing that more people dont lose their minds sitting in that.

    One thing thats become very obvious in this day and age, with the skyrocketing cost and scarcity of real estate inside of Route 128, is were never going to see another major highway built in the city. Most cities have given up on that idea. So building our way out of the problem in terms of more roads is not really a viable solution. If you cant add roads, then you have to subtract cars somehow. Employers should be coming up with ways to either help their employees work from home or help them defray the cost of a monthly MBTA pass. Is there a way to create more incentives for businesses to say, You know, it would be really nice if we had our workers ready to work on time, and theyre not on the edge of a meltdown because they just sat in traffic for over two hours? I would think that has some kind of value to an employer, to have happy workers who are ready to do what theyre supposed to be doing on time.

    Mary ConnaughtonDirector of government transparency, Pioneer Institute

    The I-90 viaduct replacement project is a great opportunity to improve the movement of tens of thousands of people coming to Boston from the westbut it must be done in a way that minimizes disruption and makes good to those affected.

    The current plan would sink the turnpike 6 feet or so, elevate Soldiers Field Road, create a new station for the Worcester commuter-rail line, and improve pedestrian and bicycle access. They say its an eight- to 10-year project, and it could take longer. During the construction, the turnpike will go from four lanes to three or even two. The commuter rail will go from two tracks to one at some points. That will slow down people coming into Boston every dayand have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods in Allston and Brighton, as people get off the Pike to avoid this. Instead, the state should reconsider lowering the turnpike, because building at grade would be a faster production cycle than doing another elevated structure. And doing this project as quickly as possible will reduce this massive disruption.

    The inconvenience of turnpike construction will be a huge opportunity for the MBTA and MassDOT to get people off the road and onto that Worcester line. But if it isnt providing better service, it will be an opportunity missed. They should expand commuter-rail service during construction, and never go down to a single track. Also, use public-private partnerships to increase parking near the rail stations. As part of mitigation, they should redesign spots such as Newton Corner, where cars trying to exit back up into travel lanes. People coming from the west should not endure 10 years of construction and then face the same bottlenecks.

    Scott FersonPublic relations strategist, Liberty Square Group

    In traffic management, there is a great focus on pavement: car lanes, bike lanes, merging lines. But there is seemingly almost no attention to signage. What signs there are tend to be governed by random geography, not useful directions or likely destinations. Hop onto 128, and signs direct you to Burlington. Why Burlington? Wheres Burlington in relation to where Im going? If you dont know, good luck.

    The signage process clearly doesnt involve anybody who knows how to communicate with customers. Signs seem to be written by engineers, and thats not a good idea.

    My pet peeve comes when getting onto a secondary road from the highway, trying to anticipate whether I have a right-hand or left-hand exit. I fight my way to the right, only to find that I need to move several lanes to the left instead. Im causing more delays for everybody, not to mention incurring their wrath. Give us a hint, please, before the last moment.

    Ana Cristina FragosoGeotechnical civil engineer, WSP USA

    We need to remove a lot of the commercial vehicles from the main roads. Not just the big freight trucks, but also the single-home-heating-unit trucks, the medical-waste trucks, and smaller delivery vehicles. Its really hard for them to get around: Restrictions on commercial traffic keep them out of tunnels and off bridges, and the geography of Bostons roads forces them onto even smaller streets. It becomes a big backup. We need alternative commercial corridors of some kind.

    There are some dedicated lanes now, but they are few and far between, and they are not thoroughfares. We need more utility corridors; maybe ferry service specifically for commercial vehicles. You can also look at rail, which handled a lot of freight traffic in the old days. But thats more for economies of scaleits not likely today to work for a small-business owner who runs a heating business.

    Moving commercial trucks onto alternative routes would ease traffic congestion and also be beneficial for business owners. Theyre paying that driver to sit in traffic, losing money on salary, fuel, and maintenance for the vehicle.

    Reverend Laura EverettAuthor, Holy Spokes: The Search for Urban Spirituality on Two Wheels

    As somebody who regularly travels around the city by bike, I have a front-row seat to the distracted driving of many Bostonians. Ive seen people texting, watching video, Snapchatting, and playing Pokemon Go! Its this wild competitiveness and productivity we feel here; if there is a down moment, you feel like you should respond to a text or check on a score. That distraction means you are not paying attention to the people around you, and that negligence can be deadly.

    If were going to cut down on collisions that both endanger people and add to our massive backups, we need to look at the people who can do the most damage, and far and away that is when we are behind the wheel of a car.

    Interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity. Additional reporting by Spencer Buell, Jacqueline Cain, Brittany Jasnoff, and Alyssa Vaughn.

    Read the original post:
    How to Save Transportation in Boston: Cars - Boston magazine

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