Moveable ‘parklet’ comes into University City

Trash cans and folding chairs aren’t the only things taking up Philadelphia parking spaces anymore.

The University City District and Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities unveiled a moveable mini park, known as a parklet, yesterday on 43rd Street just north of Baltimore.

The 40-by-6 oasis sits in front of the Green Line Cafe. “We wanted to put it in front of a natural gathering spot, so we figured the coffee shop was a good place that would attract people,” said Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler, who called the pilot project the “front porch” of the community.

University City District Planning Director Prema Gupta got the idea when she visited her parents in California’s Bay Area. “I literally stumbled [onto] one with my dad,” she said. “It’s something that can be done quickly and efficiently almost anywhere there is a pedestrian need.”

Some area residents don’t know what to make of the parklet. “I think it’s cool, but I bet if you sit out there for long enough, someone will tell you to move,” said Dale Bickerstaff of 49th Street. “A whole lot of people won’t use it because they think it’s part of the coffee shop and you have to buy something.”

The Green Line will maintain the space through October, taking in the furniture at night. The University City District already has two additional parklets built by Bill Curran Design and hopes to install them soon. If successful, the city will extend the project to other neighborhoods.

The project’s $10,000 price tag is financed by a grant from the William Penn foundation.

“We wanted something we could pick up and put back over and over again, as well as use for appropriate special events,” Gupta said. “The parklets in New York and San Francisco are not as sturdy.”

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