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Struggling Seaport Shop Owners Want Streets Closed to Cars This Fall

 Revitalizing the South Street Seaport
Revitalizing the South Street Seaport
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SOUTH STREET SEAPORT — For months, visitors to the many Hurricane Sandy-shuttered storefronts near the Seaport have had to contend with massive garbage containers and construction equipment blocking off the cobblestone streets.

Now, Seaport shop owners are trying to turn what’s seemed like a perpetual construction site into weekend pedestrian plazas this fall, to attract more foot traffic in anticipation of more businesses reopening.

Seaport store owners plan to submit a proposal to the mayor’s office in the next several weeks to shut down several blocks to cars some Saturdays in September and October, in a bid to boost business to shops that have taken a big hit in the wake of the storm. Restaurants would put tables and chairs outside, enlivening streets that business owners say have long been too quiet.

“We’re trying to jumpstart the neighborhood,” said Jacqueline Goewey, the owner of Made Fresh Daily, a popular Front Street cafe that, unlike the majority of its neighbors on the block, was able to reopen relatively quickly after the storm. “We want to let people [know] we’re up and running again — once most of the stores are open again.”

Goewey said area businesses have already been in touch with representatives from the mayor's office about closing some local streets in the fall.

Most of the store owners on the historic slice of Front Street that lies between Peck Slip and Beekman Street have been shuttered since the storm, as their landlord, the Durst Corporation, makes repairs to heating and electrical systems. Store owners on the block say they will be able to finally get into their gutted shops in July, and hope to reopen by September.

The plan consists of shutting down several blocks to cars: Front Street, between Beekman and Dover streets; Water Street, between Dover Street and Peck Slip; and Peck Slip between South and Water streets. The closures would run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays starting Sept. 11, and ending Oct. 9.

Goewey said she's still not sure how many businesses will participate, or exactly how they will participate, but the idea is to help bring attention — and customers — to the many Seaport shops that have been closed, or lost in the mess of construction.

"It's been tough for this neighborhood" Goewey said. "Maybe this can help give us an added boost as we all keep trying to move forward."