The city of Indianapolis might close portions of Massachusetts Avenue, Monument Circle and Broad Ripple Avenue in an effort to accommodate more outdoor dining as restaurants reopen to sit-down customers.
Last week, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine announced that Marion County restaurants would be able to begin reopening Friday for outdoor dining as Marion County’s enters the second phase of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan.
Restaurants will have to maintain capacity at 50% or less, and only restaurants with outdoors seating are allowed to open for sit-down service. Hogsett said then the city was considering ways to expand the public rights of way to make room for diners and that guidance would be coming soon.
Hogsett is expected to make an announcement Tuesday morning regarding the Dine Out Indy program.
On Monday, city councilor Zach Adamson, who chairs the council’s public works committee, said in a Facebook post that the city will soon start closing down some major commercial corridors to offer restaurants the ability to expand their outdoor seating and to give pedestrians greater access to public rights of way without having to sacrifice social distancing.
Massachusetts Avenue, from North Delaware Street to North College Avenue; the southern half of Monument Circle; Georgia Street from Illinois to Pennsylvania streets; Illinois Street from Georgia Avenue to Market Street; and Broad Ripple Avenue from the Monon Trail to College Avenue are all being considered for temporary closure, Adamson’s post said.
Closing Massachusetts Avenue, for example, would give pedestrians a 24-foot thoroughfare to safely walk while allowing businesses to expand outdoor seating into the street, if they wish to.
“Commitments to ensure that our city can reopen safely is our goal,” Adamson wrote. “We understand, no solution is ever going to make 100% of the people 100% happy, but I’m excited to share some of these preliminary efforts.”
He said the city is also creating a special permit that will help expedite the permitting process for restaurants to expand outdoor seating.
The city wants to hear from restaurants on temporary outdoor seating options. Marion County restaurant owners are encouraged to visit indy.gov/form/temporary-outdoor-seating-form to share details about their current outdoor seating, or lack thereof, with city officials.
Additionally, Indy Chamber will host a webinar at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday about the street closures and program. To register, visit indychamber.com/events/dine-out-indy-webinar/.