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The Curious Case of the Streetless Street Closure

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, August 14, 2009, at 05:29PM
the alley Ed Fuentes

Looking down on Harlem Alley and the entrance to Lost Souls Cafe.

It would seem safe to think that street closures typically require a street, right? If so, it might be a surprise to see a motion pass through City Council today authorizing the closure of Harlem Place on September 18th.

Harlem Place, of course, is the alley that runs through the buildings of the Old Bank District. It's best known for Lost Souls Cafe, which opened in January of 2006.

Though gated and withdrawn from public use, Harlem Place is still officially public right of way. It provides access for trash trucks, but has not hosted regular vehicle traffic in years.

That not-quite-a-street status makes things a little complicated when it comes to situations like the DLANC-sponsored Park[ing] Day event proposed to take place in the alley on September 18th.

A representative from Gilmore Associates, owner of the neighboring Hellman Building, says that the company is interested to see whether the city says a street closure permit is really necessary.

Long-term plans for the alley envision it as a pedestrian space with more retail and cafe spaces opening onto it. For that to happen, the city and property owners are first going to have to sit down and figure out just what exactly Harlem Place really is.

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