2013: Could It Be the Year of the Parklet?

I reported last year on MOTU’s (the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities) efforts to promote parklet development across Philadelphia… well they are at it again. Six parklets were developed in 2012 through the MOTU initiative and two more are already planned for 2013 in Manayunk and Chinatown but MOTU doesn’t want to stop there!

Although MOTU is no longer offering cash grants to develop parklets, they are supporting the further development of parklets through an updated manual and staff that can assist interested organizations and businesses. The new manual includes a step-by-step process and detailed design requirements that make it easier than ever to get a parklet at your doorstep. The City is clearly expressing interest in converting black-top parking spaces along its commercial corridors into seasonal, attractively-designed, and safe gathering spaces for the public. All you need is proof of community support, Streets Department approval of your parklet location, and a license and operating agreement with the City. The license and operating agreement requires that you have adequate insurance, agree to keep the parklet clean, and store the parklet during the off-season (parklets can’t be out on the streets during the winter months so unique modular designs that can be stored and assembled easily come in very handy).

In addition to the improvements that are physically apparent (most importantly the fact that there are more “feet on the street” when you give people safe and attractive places to gather and relax) some businesses are reporting economic advantages to building parklets as well. At least two businesses have reported a 15-40% increase in sales after a parklet went in. MOTU is very interested in further capturing and quantifying the impacts parklets have on pedestrian and economic activity and are asking for YOUR help to do it. If you are apt to sit in public parks and people watch, then you should sign-up!

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