Outdoor Mall seating to be corralled?

On Tuesday the Board of Architectural Review discussed the proposed Downtown Mall renovation and touched on an issue that could be of interest to foodies and restaurant owners. The MMM Design Group, the company contracted by the City to spearhead the proposed $7.5 million project scheduled to begin at the end of the year, wants to install permanent borders for outdoor cafe and restaurant seating. They suggested that current borders are too "loosely" defined, and proposed installing "inserts" that would accommodate removable bollards directly on the Mall's surface. They also suggested that three or four bollard designs could be ordered so that restaurants owners could have a choice.

Of course, that raised a bunch of questions the BAR was neither prepared nor empowered to answer. How do you decide how much space a restaurant gets? Who would own and maintain the bollards? In addition, one BAR member reminded those present that Lawrence Halprin, who originally designed the Mall– and whose original design MMM has promised to remain faithful to–was essentially an "old hippie" whose intent was to "preserve the spontaneity of the Mall."

New bar... nine stories up!

Oh, the BAR also approved some sort of "screen" for the penthouse to be built atop the 9-story Landmark Hotel, currently under construction on the Mall, and it was revealed that the penthouse will include a rooftop bar with views of the mountains. Now that's a B-A-R review we can get excited about!

17 comments

This is a dreadful idea. Wherever they are placed, locations will become obsolete as restaurants change or move out. Also, does this mean if a new restaurant opens, they'll have to dig up the mall to provide new ones? This just screams of over-control issues.

Not sure of the immediate impact, but if it can serve to retard the Downtown Mall's evolution into an outdoor food court it can't be all bad.

This problem is nothing a little enforcement and a tape measure can't solve. Typical overreaction by the city. Although Music Lover is right, something does need to be done to rein in the sprawling outdoor seating.

Rather than worry about restaurants loose borders the tribal elders should really worry more about Tibetan knickknack tables and panhandlers. Trying to get through the central part of the mall is a misery.

As for the bar on the roof...will it be smoke free like Hamilton's or Enoteca?

Have to agree on the panhandlers.

Let`s talk some more about the Bar-in-the-Sky.

How about a corral for the panhandlers. (-: I agree with Cathy. Businesses come and go. Why not limit the number of outdoor seats each food business may have. Then enforce it.

Is MMM just creating more sources of income? I'm sure they were expecting to be hired to do some kind of study on restaurant boundaries. Same issues over and over with every new-comer.
Music Lover, what else is the Mall going to be, out of curiosity?

Agreed on corral for the panhandlers - jobs would be even better. They have taken to poaching the corner near the transit center, heckling passers-by and shouting rude things at the local ladies.

At least the knick-knack peddlers don't hurt anyone or talk trash to people that ignore them, and are conducting legitimate business - might not be the best merchandise, but they are paying a fee to sell there. And I doubt the knick-knackers are desperately searching for their next 40oz of Steel Reserve Malt beverage, when they manage to make a sale.

and this rooftop bar is likely within the private penthouse. I wouldn't want frat boys disturbing my view of the mountains.

I wonder if the knick-knackers aren't working on a higher margin than some businesses downtown. And I can't believe people complain about things being for sale everywhere... on a shopping mall! It's not a museum.

Evolution into a foodcourt? Been downtown lately? We have more eateries per capita than NYC. Students Ex. It is really a very easy and accomodative design. PEOPLE WALK up and down the mall along the sides giving them exposure to the cutesy lil storefronts. All the while PEOPLE EAT in the center of the mall like a people eating median almost with foot traffic on both sides. If trying to get through the middle of the mall is a misery to you sir well then perhaps you should just think about how much happier you would be gazing into stores and walking where everyone else walks even the miserable ones knick knacks paddy whacks and all that make the mall the mall not the foodcourtmall. The mall ain't broke but it looks like it's gettin fixed anyway. Shame. After we foodcourtize the dtownmall it will be just that the foodcourt or the foodcourtmall. The lobster tent is kitchy enough just leave the mall be please@##$! 7.5 MILLION Dollars not Euros thank god Can't wait to see how the city handles that.

I wonder if they will put the new signs in (from another pot of money) in at the same time or wait until they finish putting dirt in everybody's hair bricking the mall, then come back and put more dirt in everybody's hair to put in the the signs then come back and put more dirt in everybody's hair to brick the rest of the side streets. Then it will be time to put more dirt in everybody's hair to re-do the expensive football field concession stand in front of city hall, then put more dirt in everybody's hair and repair the Belmont Bridge. Hey, then it will stop being called the foodcourtmall and start being called the dirtyhairmall.

Perhaps we are all misunderstanding the intent of the various "improvements/amenities" of the mall.

The mall is for tourists and students - not residents (or at least not primarily).

If one understands that then the vision becomes clear.

I think the city has actually changed the Mall's purpose from just being an attractor for students and tourist to that of an entertainment district that attracts residents, students and out of town visitors when it encouraged the restoration of the Partmount, the renovaton of the Pavilion and the relocation of Live Arts and the Second Street Gallery.

How about we let the market decide? If the restaurants want borders they can put them up, not the taxpayer.

Grant, can you think of another instance when the local government did as you suggest above?