You Can Help Make Tucson’s First Parklet a Reality

January 14, 2014

tucsonsfirst-parkletTwo locally-owned downtown businesses are partnering with local non-profit organization, Living Streets Alliance, to establish Tucson’s first parklet. The team seeks to bring much needed “green” space to the area of 6th Avenue and 7th Street, a burgeoning cultural district just north of downtown Tucson.

Parklets are a cost-effective urban intervention being utilized in cities throughout the United States including San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles, to name a few. A parklet is created when an under-utilized public space (usually an on-street parking space) is turned into a non-permanent “pocket park”. Local materials are used to create planters, seating, shade, and other elements that enhance the space, making it a public place for gathering, recreating, and relaxing.

Parklets in other cities have proven to increase property values and drive up revenues for nearby businesses. Because they are in the public right-of-way, anyone can use them, but local businesses or organizations must commit to maintenance and upkeep of the area, as well as fund their construction.

Businesses at 403 N. 6th Avenue – the proposed parklet location – are supportive of this innovative treatment. “We know that coffee shops and restaurants tend to build a sense of community in a neighborhood,” says Amy Smith, Manager at Exo Roast Co. “We want to share and extend that community all along 6th Avenue and we know this project can contribute to that.” Rebecca Safford, owner of Tap & Bottle affirms that “Many of our customers walk or bike and the addition of a parklet would meet the demand in our neighborhood for more public outdoor spaces. I think there is a momentum building on 6th Avenue with new businesses – let’s keep that momentum going!”

Picture 148webThe design of the parklet will compliment the character of the district. “The flavor of the historical warehouse district and 6th Avenue has always been art focused,” says Smith. “We will utilize the efforts of artists and designers in our neighborhood like the carpentry work of Baer Joinery, the artisan tile work of Carly Quinn, and landscape architects at Design Collaborations to build the Parklet. Local architects and architecture students are also involved at the ground level.”

Living Streets Alliance (LSA) has been working with the City of Tucson to develop a parklet program for Tucson. “I am helping facilitate this pilot parklet because it will improve the walkability of this area and will be an asset for Tucson. I’m interested in this being a model for other businesses to follow,” says Ann Chanecka, Tucson Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Manager. “This is a win-win-win situation,” says Emily Yetman, Executive Director of LSA. “Tucsonans get a great public space; it attracts more business to the area; and it doesn’t cost tax-payers a thing. We hope that this parklet will serve as a pilot to show businesses throughout Tucson how easy, cost-effective, and beneficial it is to create parklets in their area.”

To raise the $17,000 needed to permit, build, and maintain the parklet (Yetman notes that subsequent parklets will likely cost much less) the group is doing an online Indiegogo fundraising campaign through January 15th. On Tuesday, January 14th, Exo Roast Co. and Tap & Bottle will also donate a percentage of the day’s sales to the “Tucson’s First Parklet” fund.

For more information visit the Indiegogo page. All donations to the parklet are tax-deductible and can be made online at this location.