Pull up a chair, sit down and relax instead of parking your car downtown.
That’s how the City of Terrace wants residents to use their new ‘parklet.’
The wooden patio complete with chairs, tables and decorative flowers was installed over a parking space in front of Bert’s Delicatessen on Park Ave. yesterday, July 10. It’s surrounded by barriers to keep traffic from entering the area.
“I just sat down and I’m really surprised and happy,“ says Cynthia Powell. “I hope they do more of these.”
The $9,000 parklet pilot project is an effort to encourage more positive activity downtown by adding more street furniture, says city planner David Block. It can also be used as a seasonal extension of existing commercial business operations, and slow down traffic on the road.
“[The reaction] has been overwhelmingly positive,” Block says. “Even if they can’t park there, they want to come now because of the activity and the vibrancy. They’ll stay and have lunch instead of just a coffee.”
He says the city’s building maintenance team designed the parklet, which is comprised of seven five-foot sections spanning 35-feet, or the size of two parking spaces. It was split into two patios, with the second parklet planned to sit outside of Xanders coffee shop on Lakelse Ave.
The ‘downtown living room’ concept was first introduced in the city’s Downtown Action Plan and Urban Design Guidelines created last year using public feedback.
Richard Kriegl, owner of Bert’s Deli, says he was originally concerned the parklet would take up a parking space for his business but now likes the idea after seeing it being well-used.
“I think it’s a cool idea. It gets people out and it has a more European vibe to it,” Kriegl says. “Everyone’s so happy to see this.”
But not everyone’s happy. Angelo Raposo, 11, says the parklet can be a hassle for drivers looking for a parking spot.
“I don’t like it because we had to park a block away,” he says. “I think it looks nice but could have been designed a bit better. It would be better if it was thinner and longer.”
There is actually ‘significant’ excess parking in the city, Block says.
Terrace commercial streets usually hit targeted occupancy rates over peak times during the lunch hour, but a majority of the city’s parking spaces are left vacant most of the day, according to a recent parking study.
“It may mean you have to park around the corner instead of your destination, but there’s always a spot to park around the corner,” Block says.
The parklet will be at two locations for the summer and then stored away for the spring, where it will pop back up at two new locations. The city will then gather feedback and decide whether or not to continue the project.
The city is also working on policy permits to allow for other business to build and install a permanent parklet of their own.