New grocery will need more parking

March 4, 2011
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BTD: Whole Foods will not scuttle Hyde Sq. redesign

HYDE SQ.—Whole Foods Market’s plans to open a new store at 415 Centre St. will require more parking than the about-70 spaces available in the existing lot, Whole Foods officials told the Gazette last month, but where it will be is a mystery.

“Whole Foods Market stores do tend to serve not only the immediate communities, but surrounding areas as well. In anticipation of this, we are working on securing additional parking locations,” Whole Foods spokesperson Heather McCready told the Gazette in a Feb. 14 e-mail.

McCready did not respond to Gazette requests last week for more details on Whole Foods’ parking plans. The only other large parking lot in the immediate vicinity is the lot owned by The Massachusetts Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA) at its Angell-Memorial Hospital on Perkins Street.

MSPCA spokesperson Brian Adams told the Gazette last week that the MSPCA has not been approached by Whole Foods about using the MSPCA lot. “We would speak to them to find out what their request is, in detail,” he said. But the MSPCA already has problems with unauthorized commuter parking in its lot, he said.

BTD Director of Planning Vineet Gupta told the Gazette the city would discourage Whole Foods from putting additional pressure on Hyde Square’s stock of on-street parking spaces.

While the market would almost certainly generate more traffic, it would not likely mean significant changes for a planned redesign of Hyde Square, Gupta said in a phone interview last week.

“I fully expect the concept to remain,” Gupta told the Gazette in a phone interview.

The 415 Centre St. location is less than a block from the center of Hyde Square—the intersection of Centre, Perkins and Day streets. Hi-Lo made its lot available to shoppers at other Hyde Square businesses.

Recently, Hyde Square was one of two sections of Jamaica Plain’s Centre/South Street corridor singled out for major overhauls during an over-a-year-long community visioning process for the corridor.

The plans developed for the square—included in the Centre and South Streets Streetscape and Transportation Action Plan—call for turning the square into a more formal rotary and widening the sidewalks to create space for street trees, benches and a small garden.

But, Gupta said, the city plans to take potential traffic-pattern changes and parking pressure into account to moves forward.

“It is very early in the process to gauge what the traffic impact will be,” Gupta said. He said the city would encourage Whole Foods to avoid having a significant impact on on-street parking.

In addition to traffic and parking issues, Gupta said he expects the city will discuss sidewalk and streetscape enhancements with Whole Foods. That could include discussing moving the store’s Centre Street parking lot entrance away from the square, he said.

As the Gazette previously reported, the BTD plans to start the process of developing specific engineering designs for the square this spring. The development of those designs will include a community process, Gupta previously said.