20 businesses apply to have patios in downtown parking stalls, will have until Jan. 1 to comply with new rules

photo by: Rochelle Valverde

The "parklet" patio of Papa Keno's Pizzeria, 837 Massachusetts St., is pictured on Sept. 18, 2021.

Twenty downtown businesses have applied for a new license that will allow them to maintain the patios and outdoor dining areas that were initially constructed on a temporary basis in downtown parking stalls.

The City of Lawrence began a free, temporary “parklet” program in the summer of 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and in July city leaders voted to establish fees and other regulations for a long-term version of the program. The deadline to apply for the first iteration of a yearlong license as part of the long-term version of the program was earlier this month. Unlike the temporary program, the long-term program requires businesses to pay a license fee and go through a site-plan process to meet specific design criteria. The program also limits the size and number of parklets.

The 20 applicants represent only a slight net decrease, of three businesses, from the number of downtown businesses that operated a parklet when the license was free and had fewer regulations. According to a city report on the temporary program completed last fall, 23 downtown businesses were participating.

In addition to charging $1,000 annually per parking stall, the ordinance for the long-term program covers aesthetics and design of the dining areas. The ordinance requires the parklets to be finished with high-quality, weather-resistant materials that fit within the context of downtown, to comply with fire and safety regulations and to adhere to accessibility regulations in the Americans with Disabilities Act, among other specifics. A parklet can contain a maximum of three diagonal parking spaces and two parallel parking spaces, and there is a limit of 12 parking spaces per city block that can be licensed for use as parklets.

Deputy City Clerk Aliza Bidinger said that the 20 applicants have until Jan. 1 to fully comply with the rules established for the permanent version of the program. The city does not yet know how many of the 20 applicants will need to modify their parklet structures, as Bidinger said applicants must go through a site-plan process to identify changes that need to be made to the structures to comply with the new ordinance. The 20 businesses that have applied for the long-term license are as follows, according to information provided from the clerk’s office.

• Taco Zone, 13 E. Eighth St.

• The Sandbar, 17 E. Eighth St.

• The Bourgeois Pig, 6 E. Ninth St.

• 715, 715 Massachusetts St.

• Jefferson’s, 743 Massachusetts St.

• Mass Street Fish House & Raw Bar, 719 Massachusetts St.

• Merchants Pub & Plate, 746 Massachusetts St.

• Restaurant, Pub & Games (RPG), 724 Massachusetts St.

• Papa Keno’s, 837 Massachusetts St.

• Burger Stand, 803 Massachusetts St.

• The Mad Greek, 907 Massachusetts St.

• Red Lyon Tavern, 944 Massachusetts St.

• Louise’s, 1009 Massachusetts St.

• Sunflower Outdoor & Bike Shop, 804 Massachusetts St.

• Free State Brewery, 636 Massachusetts St.

• La Parrilla, 712 Massachusetts St.

• Archibowls, 125 E. 10th St.

• John Brown Underground, 7 E. Seventh St.

• Lucia, 1016 Massachusetts St.

• Terrebonne, 845 Massachusetts St.

The businesses that had a temporary license that have not applied for the permanent program are the Black Stag Brewery, Global Café, Ramen Bowls and The Roost, according to the report on the temporary program. Taco Zone, which did not have a license through the temporary program, has applied for one through the permanent program. Terrebonne, which recently relocated to 845 Massachusetts St., also applied for a long-term license. Pedestrian Cheese was formerly at that location and had a temporary license.

Under the ordinance, applicants will need to get their site plans approved by the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Office within 60 days of the date of application. Applications were due on Sept. 2, but businesses could have submitted them before that. Under the ordinance, the businesses that participated in the temporary program but did not apply for the long-term program were required to remove all patio structures and other fixtures from the city parking stalls by Sept. 2.


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