Chocolate Shoppe debut bolsters effort to close street for public space initiative
By all accounts the opening weekend for Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream’s Atwood Avenue location was a great success. Lines of people were observed in front of the shop no doubt encouraged by a very clever social media post Friday (May 3): “We’re opening our walk up window and serving single cones and dishes at 2302 Atwood Avenue at 12pm today!! And just a hint, if you stop by before 9pm you may not need a wallet…”
By Sunday warm temperatures and sunshine brought out the bicycles and soon every piece of open grass around the store was occupied by ice cream fans. “It was fabulous,” said Josh Connelly, retail and marketing manager for Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream. “The neighborhood welcomed us with open arms to say the least.”
Connelly says that work will begin this week on construction and landscaping of the rear area of the property to transform it into an outdoor dining room with tables, chairs, lighting, and bike racks. For Sixth District Alder Marsha Rummel, the apparent initial success of this business on this corner will bolster her plans to temporarily shut down a section of Jackson Street, between Atwood and Saint Paul Avenue, as part of a national movement called “placemaking.”
“It occurred to me that, that little piece of road could be closed, temporarily, at least for sure, but eventually maybe longer, but for the summer to create more of a hanging out space for all the people who will be converging on the Chocolate Shoppe,” Rummel told Willy Street Blog.
One of the ideas behind place making, is the “Power of 10” concept which says that any great place needs 10 reasons for people to be there like a place to sit, art, music, playgrounds, food, etc.
The City of Madison, including Mayor Paul Soglin is behind the idea, which was introduced to City leaders through a workshop given by the group Project for Public Spaces (PPS).
Recently Rummel has been laying the groundwork for the Jackson Street site through a traffic study, as well as meeting with the Schenk Atwood Starkweather Yahara Neighborhood Association. Rummel says that the area already has a lot of potential as a public space with the community gardens along St. Paul Avenue and the hard-won bike friendly intersection just a few hundred feet further west.
Rummel says that she is still coordinating with traffic engineering to effect the temporary closure but should the street close permanently the full City Council will have to approve such action.
“It [the street closing] will impact people, but I don’t think it’s one of those destructive impacts,” Rummel said.