At last week’s Planning Board meeting, the board voted unanimously to approve the site plan for Cisco Kitchen + Bar, proposed by Stephen Silverstein, the founder of Not Your Average Joe’s and owner of the Black Whale and his partner Jay Harmann of Cisco Brewers in Nantucket.
According to Director of City Planning Tabitha Harkin, they are drafting the decision on the site plan and once it is signed it will be in the appeal period for 20 days. After that, Harkin said they can obtain building permits.
It was the second time the site plan had been before the Planning Board, and based on recommendations from the first hearing and their interaction with the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, Steve Gioiosa, President of SITEC Engineering, said some changes were made. Gioiosa was presenting the plan on behalf of Silverstein and Harmann.
The biggest changes to the original plan includes changing the surface of the entertainment area, which will have a space for live music and portable kiosks offering food and beverage service, from a turf surface to sand.
“We settled on going with a sand surface, the idea is to establish more of a coastal feel for the site,” Gioiosa said. “We have a beach area that exists to the south of the site.”
They also worked to make the space more accessible to cyclists, with bike racks offering spaces for 66 bikes, according to Gioiosa, and pulled pavement away from the shoreline to comply with environmental protections.
“I do feel that the Planning Board’s comments took us to a better place,” Silverstein said when reached for comment, saying their recommendations made the site more user and environmentally-friendly.
The Planning Board also said they would support the project as it pursued permission from the Zoning Board of Appeals to put in a seashell parking lot at the site.
At the Planning Board meeting Silverstein did say he and his partner were getting “fatigued with this project” because of the delays which were costing them money.
“The economics and the delays will make this a project that we’re not able to go forward on,” Silverstein said, if they didn’t get the necessary approvals soon.
Since the Planning Board voted to approve the site plan, Silvesterin said, “We fully intend to go forward. We still have to get through the Conservation Commission, we need our final approvals from the DEP, so there are a couple of things hanging out there, but I don’t expect any issues.”
Silverstein said he doesn’t think the approval process he’s gone through is atypical but he decided to say something at the meeting because, “I just needed them that night to not delay us any further, so I made a statement that we need approval otherwise the deal’s going to die.”
Now that they’re receiving site plan approval, Silverstien said, “It’s not a done deal but we are gaining momentum. I would be disappointed and surprised if it didn’t go forward.”
Silverstein said they expect to start site work construction on the estimated $5 million project in January, which would allow them to open in May.
Kathryn Duff, Chair of the Planning Board, said she imagines the project is going to be quite successful and told Silverstein at the meeting “I love how the plans were updated, really nice job.”
However, Duff did bring up a concern about pedestrian safety since they will be leasing a parking lot three blocks away for overflow and event parking.
“We’re proposing a deep use on this site and we need to think of many people walking from a parking area that’s three blocks away,” Duff said.
One of the conditions that the Planning Board added to their approval was that the applicant works with the Department of Public Infrastructure on delineating the pedestrian path from the additional parking area to the site.
Ward 6 Councilor Joseph Lopes attended the meeting and said he doesn’t see any traffic issues arising from the project.
Lopes said he had neighborhood meetings to discuss the project and said “Not one of the neighbors expresses any concerns related to [pedestrian travel to the parking area]. Their main concern was no parking on the west side of East Rodney French Boulevard.”
Lopes said he is already working with the appropriate groups to get no parking signs on that side of the street.
The neighbors of the site have been supportive, Silverstein said.
Something was going to go on that site, Silverstein said, and “The neighbors have decided that this operation under my oversight is the best it can be.”
The site will be based on Cisco Nantucket, and Silverstein said, it’s just a place where everybody feels good, with music, food, beverages, and sunshine.
“If Jimmy Buffett were to open a place, this is kind of what it would l like,” Silverstein said of the New Bedford project. “Sand and flip flops and fish sandwiches, outdoor cooking with pigs on rotisseries, and lobsters steaming, and oysters being shucked.”
Original story here.