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Some Mass Ave businesses concerned about street closures for outdoor seating

Posted at 12:52 PM, May 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-21 23:35:50-04

INDIANAPOLIS — The owners of some businesses and restaurants along Mass Ave want more answers from Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and other city officials after they instituted the placement of street barriers to allow for more outdoor seating.

Tuesday, the street barriers went up along Mass Ave and other city streets to turn them into walkways. It's designed to let restaurants put more tables on the sidewalks since outdoor dining will be allowed in Marion County starting Friday.

On Thursday, the owners of 24 businesses on Mass Ave sent a letter to Mayor Hogsett, City-County Council President, Vop Osili, and council member Zach Adamson, who represents the area.

Click here to read the letter.

The letter asks the city to halt plans to close the street until a meeting is held to get feedback from the public.

The letter also says they believe reopening businesses this way could lead to more spreading of COVID-19. Stating, "Funneling the city's population to Mass Ave for what will be, in essence, a "street fair" (with alcohol) after three months of quarantine is a recipe for disaster."

It is unclear at this time whether everyone whose name is on the letter agrees with the opinions expressed in it.

A response to letter from the mayor's office, reads:

"The creative approach we announced earlier this week is meant to prioritize the critical need for social distancing in our pedestrian heavy corridors while also increasing opportunities for businesses to expand their footprint.
In total, twenty Mass Ave merchants have reached out to the city to express an interest in utilizing outdoor space adjacent to their business and a dozen have completed the application process for outdoor amenities. Still, we remain committed to continuing conversations with stakeholders in all of the impacted areas in order to identify challenges and alleviate issues."

Kristin Kohn, the owner of Silver in the City, says the street closures and outdoor dining is another hurdle for some customers and businesses.

"They placed order expecting to be able to pull up and pick them up and the streets will be closed so they will have to be rerouted, figure out parking and park and walk up, or ask us to run it out a block away, and we honestly don't have the staff to do that right now," Kohn said.

Bill Pritt, the owner of Forty-Five Degrees and Yogulate on Mass Ave says city leaders never asked them if closing the street was something they wanted. He's concerned about the impact this could have on carryout and delivery business.