MANCHESTER, N.H. – After the weekend of July 18 and 19, Elm Street is going to look a little different, at least for a few months.
Following in the footsteps of other nearby New Hampshire cities like Nashua, Manchester’s main thoroughfare will have parking spots closed off via Jersey Barriers to expand seating for downtown restaurants.
Handicapped parking spots will not be closed off, and exactly which spots are being closed off will depend on which restaurants or building landlords of restaurants along Elm Street apply. However, based on current feedback, approximately 21 of the 120 spaces on Elm between Merrimack Street and Bridge Street will likely be utilized.
So far, The Bookery, Café Le Reine, Campo Enoteca, Republic Café, Gyro Spot and Penuche’s have all expressed interest in applying for spots according to documents released by the city.
Manchester City Clerk Matt Normand says the process for restaurants seeking to utilize the spots will be comparable to the earlier permits that allowed expanded sidewalk seating earlier this summer.
Mayor Joyce Craig is also urging businesses interested in the program to apply within the next week if possible hope of limiting additional Jersey barrier installations in the future, but businesses that are not ready this week and may choose to apply in the future can still do so by contacting email@example.com.
Parking is still available on side streets near Elm, as well as the Victory Parking Garage.
The Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen were generally supportive of the idea, believing it would help attract more customers to the downtown area that may not be comfortable with inside seating given the COVID-19 pandemic or current limitations on sidewalk seating.
Ward 8 Alderman Michael Porter expressed concern about non-restaurants as well as revenue loss to the city from parking meters that would not be accessible until the program ends.
“I am concerned about the other building owners downtown and I am concerned about the revenue loss to the city. It’s a balancing act,” he said. “I come downtown have a bite to eat and a beer, but I’ve heard from (non-restaurant) owners as well and I just want to raise those concerns as well.”
The program would last until October 11, when the Manchester Highway Department would pick up the Jersey barriers.
A tabled request from Penuche’s owner Chuck Kalantzis to close off a portion of Lowell Street and Nutfield Lane was received and filed, killing the request.
Another tabled request to close off Elm Street completely remained on the table.