The Boston Redevelopment Authority is bringing its long-awaited plan to the neighborhood for the plaza area on Cross Street in front of the former Martignetti Liquors site. In addition to outdoor tables for the new businesses, the sidewalk and service road will be reconfigured around the Freedom Trail. Peter Gori, Senior Manager for the BRA, presented the plan at the July 28th NEWRA ZLC (North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association Zoning, Licensing & Construction) meeting.

The BRA has been involved in Mayor Menino’s “Crossroads” initiative looking to improve the intersections along the Greenway parks. The plan for Broad Street has already been completed and is now up for bid.

3829669-3748474-thumbnailAs background, Gori noted that the MassPike purchased the Cross Street plaza property in front of the old Martignetti’s in order to build the tunnel underneath. Citizen’s Bank is the master tenant for the entire building which is still owned by the Martignetti family.

The businesses set to open at the site of the old Martingnetti’s Liquors on Cross Street are, in order from the Salem Street side to Hanover Street side: Cafe Graffiti, DePasquale’s Homemade Pasta, Nick’s Famous Deli, Gigi’s Gelerateria (window) and Citizen’s Bank.

Outdoor seating will consist of:

  • 36 seats in front of Cafe Grafitti, gated, with 3 feet of empty space around the Freedom Trail. These seats would be for Cafe Graffiti patrons use only.
  • 38 seats in front of Nick’s Famous Deli and DePasquale’s Pasta. The two businesses have agreed to share the seating. Because these establishments do not have a liquor license, there will be no requirement to have the section gated (as with Cafe Grafitti), although the seats would only be for the use of these two businesses.
  • Gigi’s Gelateria (also owned by DePasquale) has also proposed to maintain 30 outdoor seats on the side where it and Citizen’s Bank occupy (Hanover St side). These seats would be open to the public, but likely also to benefit those looking to sit down with their gelati.

On the large brick wall by the Citizen’s Bank corner, the BRA is planning a mural highlighting the Freedom Trail. The Cross Street businesses will have awnings, umbrellas and signage. Mr. Gori did not have any details, other than to note they were appropriate and tasteful, without neon. There are 2 NStar vaults, one of which is expected to be resurfaced. The business owners are expected to maintain flower planters along the pedestrian area. The plan has been set with input from the Freedom Trail Commission and WalkBoston. The vertical ballards that are in place and the Freedom Trail path will largely stay unchanged by the BRA’s plan.

In response to a question regarding Nick’s Famous Deli’s application for a 4am closing for its takeout window, Mr. Gori said  that each business will have to pursue its own licensing process which was outside the BRA’s authority. However, he noted the addition of outdoor patios would likely require an amended license application.

There will be three parking spaces in front of the site on Cross Street. Each will have a 30 minute limit during the day and turn into resident parking at night (6pm-8am). All commercial parking will be removed from inside of where the pathway ballards are now placed.  Although not part of this specific project, it was noted that on the section in front of Maria’s and J. Pace, those businesses wish to keep the two 15 minute parking spots for customers which are only accessible from the service path in front of the old Martignettis.

zlcThe ZLC Committee brought up that the site paving currently makes it very difficult for pedestrians to know where to walk without interferring with the service road. While agreeing with the concern, Mr. Gori indicated that funding to repave the plaza is unlikely. The BRA will look at including white lines in their plan to help pedestrians navigate the plaza.

It was further questioned why a vehicle path was needed through the site. A resident indicated that cars on Cross Street are using the pathway to beat the light at Salem Street. Mr. Gori indicated that a vehicle pathway was needed for deliveries and access to the adjoining plaza on the other side of Salem Street. There will be no curb alterations or re-surfacing, although some ballards could be removed for convenience.

Cafe Grafitti has a midnight closing hour for the inside business but typically licenses require outdoor patios have a closing of 11 pm. Businesses will be required to have a site cleanliness permit to control the rodent problem in the area. Mr. Gori described the closing procedure where all the tables and chairs have to be stacked and roped each night.

The full NEWRA membership will be presented with the BRA’s plan on August 13th, 7pm at the Nazarro Center.

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