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Parking spaces would become outdoor cafes under DDA proposal

New York City Dept. of Transportation

Outdoor cafes in Traverse City could be moving from the sidewalk to the street.

The Downtown Development Authority is debating a plan to allow “platform” cafes, which would take up two parking spots outside a restaurant.

The Downtown Development Authority will discuss the concept Friday morning.

DDA Executive Director Rob Bacigalupi says he wants to loosen rules on sidewalk cafes that were passed two years ago.

“In the last couple of years, the city kind of tightened up restrictions to assure better pedestrian flow through the cafes," says Bacigalupi. "That made it, in some cases, a little bit harder for restaurants to actually have a sidewalk café.”

When the city commission first approved sidewalk cafes in 2014, it considered adding platform cafes – but voted it down. Bacigalupi says there were concerns about losing parking spaces.

“There was also some debate about how to administer them," he says. "Would they be open to the public? Would they be exclusive to the restaurant? The way that we’re proposing it now, it would just be used by the restaurant.”

Under the new proposal, only four platform cafes would be allowed per year. And the cafes would be barred from the busiest sections of Front Street.