August 30, 2014

Clover HFI waiting for a storefront

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We’re waiting for a storefront for our new Central Square location, Clover HFI. I’ll admit I’m a little impatient. And this stuff takes forever. And there is no way to speed it up.

To update you on some of the other things we’ve been doing: we had to submit for a 2 variances with the State Architectural Access Board: one for the corner entrance (not wheelchair accessible), and one for the side entrance (slightly steeper ramp than code requires for wheelchair access). They approved the first. It’s an enormous block of granite at the corner. If they’d rejected our application we would have had to obscure the entrance with a lift.

They rejected the second. Not sure why. The ramp we were asking for was something like a 4″ rise over 10 feet. It’s an old building so we are working within what is there now. Code requires something like 4″ over 10 feet. I know variances are issued for this sort of thing. I don’t know the details that led to our rejection. (Please don’t use these exact numbers as reference. I get frustrated with this stuff and try to leave it to our architects and engineers now so I don’t know the real numbers.) Now we need to build a ramp that comes into the space. We’ll need a longer ramp and you need something like a 5′ turnaround at the end of the ramp, so it’s a pretty enormous impact on the space which is small (less than 1500 square feet). But when we’re done this ramp will be fully compliant with current regulations.

Since we started building restaurants (which wasn’t very long ago) there have been a number of changes in code that have impacted construction cost and the amount of space you have to give up to non-productive uses. Among these changes are larger and more expensive HVAC systems (2-3x), more bathrooms, more wheelchair accessible entrances, larger grease traps, rejection of small efficient point of use hot water heaters (requiring large holding tanks instead), addition of air curtains on doors (which I think is great by the way). I’ve been looking at stuff in DC and it’s crazy. Every restaurant I walk into I find myself seeing all of the details that would prevent that restaurant from being built in Boston.

I didn’t know anything about this stuff when I started. I now know more than I’d like. It’s been really surprising to me how quickly it changes. I would never have guessed we’d see this much change in such a short period of time. Construction costs have gone up 20-30% due to these regulatory changes alone.

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