Q. What if 1% of Asheville’s street parking was transformed into Parklets?
A. Asheville would gain 1,134 sf of park space, increase local economies, and give citizens a whole new way to experience the city.
A parklet is a sidewalk extension that provides additional space and amenities for pedestrians. They are typically located in a standard parallel parking space on the side of a street. The idea started in San Francisco in 2010, but now they can be found in many cities across the country. They often offer seating and vegetation; work surfaces and shade can also be included. Typically, they are hosted by an adjacent business, however, they are free and open to the public.
Reveille Coffee Parklet, San Francisco | Photo Credit
Museum of Craft and Design, San Francisco | Photo Credit
Why Should Asheville Consider Parklets?
There are many benefits of the parklet. They offer a place to rest on what could otherwise be a busy street. They add beauty and vegetation to the street scape. Studies even show that giving city users a place of respite can actually boost local business.This idea is not new to Asheville. Open Asheville was a non profit who created a temporary parklet during the LAAF Festival in 2012.
1% of parking can benefit 100% of pedestrians.
The central business district of Asheville currently has around 700 metered street parking spaces. That is 113,400 square feet (9’ wide x 18’ long = 162 square feet). We propose to take 1% of that, or 7 parking spaces. That would give 1,134 square feet of park space to the city. It's certainly not a huge amount but it could have a huge impact. Imagine what our downtown could look like if parklets were scattered throughout town. There are streets that certainly beg for a bit of park space; North Lexington Avenue, Coxe Avenue, the west side of Patton Avenue and several streets on the South Slope.
What could this look like in Asheville?
Here is one proposal that we, SPARC Design, worked on with Luly Abraria of Alembic Studio. This was proposed on North Lexington Avenue near Virtue. This is a very pedestrian-heavy street, but there are hardly any public benches or places to sit. We'd love to see all kinds of proposals; that is what makes the idea of a parklet so special. It's a small enough space to get very creative and resourceful.
If you’re not convinced of a year round parklet in Asheville, perhaps you'd consider Park(ing) Day. Park(ing) Day is an event where artist, designers and citizens transform metered parking spaces into public park space. It occurs on the third Friday in September this year.
For an incredible wealth of resources, check out www.pavementtoparks.org
Weekly, we explore the potential of Asheville; ranging from practical to plain radical. It’s no secret that our beloved city is quite a popular place. As it grows and changes, we propose topics for consideration to promote discussion about Asheville and Western North Carolina.
What do you think of this week's proposal? Share your thoughts!