The parking spots and the novelty of outdoor dining are long gone. Now they are a normal part of street life in NYC, but are they good for a neighborhood if you are thinking of purchasing property and living nearby?
New York City has the largest open streets program, with 160 locations spreading over 300 blocks which includes 25 new locations this year. The Department of Transportation did a study last year and concluded Open Streets is good for local business.
If you are not familiar with the program, on certain days and times, those streets which have applied and received a permit can shut down the street to through traffic and open it mainly to pedestrians. Typically, this happens in the warmer months when everyone is likely to be out enjoying the warm weather.
For example, on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Harlem condo owners and renters along that street enjoy the ability to walk freely from 112th up to 124th Street, leisurely stopping off for a drink here or a snack there as they sample some great local cuisine.
Many restaurants will put out extra tables on the weekend in the middle of the street encouraging you to linger. One sports themed restaurant, The Fox, even has a foosball table and a corn hole game set out next to their tables.
Additional entertainment events such as an outdoor movie or dancing lessons are hosted by The Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance, the non-profit which organizes the open street program to support local businesses and residents.
On the Upper West Side many homeowners have come together on 103rd Street and have a very active association with lovely planters. Through traffic is discouraged on most days but it is possible allowing for deliveries and those disabled neighbors who rely on door-to-door transportation. Further South on Columbus Avenue (from West 68th to West 77th streets) the streets are closed for workouts, live music, kids’ events and more. Join the fun every Sunday from 11am to 7pm, May 15 – October 30.
Overall, the goal of open streets is to make neighborhoods more inviting for pedestrians, thereby encouraging more patronage at local businesses. Yet every neighborhood is different so you should go back in the evening if you have found a home you like and see what their open streets program looks like. Does it get noisy and encourage a party scene or is it chill and the street closes again at 10PM. Make sure the street matches your vibe.
Also pay close attention to the condition of the outdoor dining sheds. Have they been kept up and are they attractive? The care a local restaurateur takes with their sheds will be a good indication of their maintenance in general which extends to their trash removal!
Reach out anytime. As head of The Boland Team, I’m always happy to answer questions.