City of Dallas Gets the First Permanent Parklet in DFW, A Pilot for a New Program

May 6, 2020

 

 

 The first permanent parklet in Dallas, to be installed at Veracruz Cafe in the Bishop Arts District.

 

 

Parklets may soon be popping up in Dallas, as they have been across the country and the world. 

 

Dallas has had a Pilot Parklet Application for a few years but up until now, no one had submitted a full application. Spurred by the North Central Texas Council of Government's (NCTCOG)  Green Blue Grey Grant, Amanda Popken and her team have designed a parklet that will incorporate a seating area, bicycle parking, and add some greenery to the Bishop Arts District.

 

It’s a community effort. Jim Lake Co. and Veracruz Cafe owners to enable to parklet to built on 8th St at Bishop St. It’ll be directly in front of the Veracruz Cafe restaurant, one of the longest-standing businesses in the district. AJ Vagabonds, across the street, is partnering to keep the plants watered and community groups signed letters of support for the application.

 

“We've received our Right of Way Permit and are finalizing construction drawings for the parklet installation on 8th St at Cafe Veracruz.” says Popken, CEO of Amanda Popken Development. “Although many businesses are focused on keeping staff employed and doors open right now, we know that parklets will help by attracting customers and enticing them to stay longer and spend more money at nearby businesses.”

 

The benefits of Parklets include providing extra space for customers, attracting more customers to nearby businesses - all the things our local businesses need now. 

 

  • Parklets contribute to the sense of safety on the street, by creating a barrier between the sidewalk activity and automobile traffic on the street. The mini-parks and plazas created by parklets enhance the pedestrian experience, creating a sense of place, inviting people to linger, and attracting more people. 

  • In a 2011 study of San Francisco parklets "The number of people stopping to to socialize and engage in positive behavior increased significantly…especially on weekdays” 

  • This in turn helps adjacent businesses - especially restaurants with quick turnover, little seating inside, and large windows overlooking the parklet.

  • In a 2015 UCD Philadelphia study, “Owners reported a 20 percent increase in sales in the two weeks following a parklet installation… One business owner said sales were up so much he had to hire new workers.”

 

 

On a recent interview on the Active Towns podcast, Popken talks about the need for bike parking to be “sexier”, with more visibility, and the need for smaller, more intimate social spaces like parklets in neighborhood retail districts. This parklet achieves both. 

 

“Because our parklet funding is through the NCTCOG’s Blue Green Grey Grant, the project integrates Transportation elements (the 'grey’) with landscaping and a mobility option that significantly impacts our watershed in a positive way.. Not only do automobiles impact our air quality, but oil on the roads impact our water quality as well.”  The parklet will provide space for customers and the public to sit and mingle outside, as well as parking for 4 bicycles. 

 

The design team includes Bob Meckfessel and Andrea Gonzalez of architecture firm DSGN Associates, Mikel Wilkens who recently joined TBG, and will be constructed by Gary Bucker and his team at Stash Design. 

 

Installation is projected for June 2020 if construction continues as planned.

 

To address an immediate need to support struggling restaurants and retailers, Councilman Chad West (with the assistance of Kourtney Garrett with Downtown Dallas, Inc and Angela Hunt with Munch Hardt) has developed a number of proposed initiatives, including a Temporary Parklet permit, to facilitate Economic Development as Stay at Home orders are lifted. The proposal is still in the planning stages but may be coming to council for approval within the coming weeks. 

 

The substantive differences between the new temporary program and the permanent pilot project include:

- Temporary permits will be for 10 days with opportunities for renewal through December 2020

- Temporary parklet materials will need to be secured indoors overnight

 

Following installation of the permanent parklet, data will be collected on the impact of the parklet to present to Council as part of a recommendation to establish a permanent parklet program. At that point, there may be fees for parklet applications or installations. When the program gains approved through Council, anyone will be able to apply to construct a parklet which will remain in place for up to 1 year, with the opportunity for annual reapplications. 

 

Construction drawings and fabrication instructions will soon be available open-source at bikefriendlyoc.org for anyone to access and a Best Practices Guide for the project details the process for other municipalities looking to implement similar parklet programs. 

 

 

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