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Charles Street shops look for ways to improve thoroughfare, business

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  January 31, 2012 01:05 PM

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Business owners looking for ways to improve Charles Street are considering installing guards around the 57 trees lining the street to make the shopping destination more attractive and help boost business.

The proposed guards would surround the 36-by-60 inch pit around each tree and flowers would be planted around the tree

The Joint Charles Street Committee, a collaborative between the Beacon Hill Civic Association and the Beacon Hill Business Association, hopes business owners will sponsor guards for the trees in front of their shops to move along the process.

“This is so simple to do and the city is already with us,” John Corey, a civic association member and co-chairman of the Joint Charles Street Committee, told about two dozen business owners and residents at a meeting last week.

The guards cost $975 each for production and installation. The city’s Public Works Department rebuilds the brick tree pit to the neighborhood's specifications, while the committee orders, pays for, and installs the guards.

Two tree guards, including one in front of 143 Charles St. sponsored by Charles Street Liquors, have already been installed. The committee aims to have ten more guards installed by the spring.

Susan Symonds, president of the Beacon Hill Business Association, said local businesses need to be able to tell the city, “Yep, we’re willing to help ourselves out,” as they look for ways to increase foot traffic, which many shop owners say has been dwindling on the historic street.

“We just don’t have the foot traffic to support my art gallery and other businesses,” Judith Dowling, owner of Judith Dowling Asian Art, said at last week’s meeting where she announced she was closing her gallery.

Dowling said rent hikes and a drop in business from outside the neighborhood contributed to her choice to close. It’s a situation not unfamiliar to other local boutiques and shops along the street where rents are high and national chains, such as Capital One Bank, able to offer more in rent are looking to move in.

Many business owners suggested a variety of ways to improve foot traffic and business that ranged from working with the city to improve and maintain the brick sidewalks to starting a validation program with the parking garage under the Boston Common to help potential shoppers with cars find a place to park.

Others suggested business stay open past 6 p.m. and on Sundays so shoppers could come by after work or a weekend brunch or sweep the sidewalk to improve the cleanliness and image of the street.

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Twitter: @YourBeaconHill, @JohannaKaiser.
Email: johanna.yourtown@gmail.com.

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