Minneapolis Introduces "Parklets" [VIDEO]

Workers construct the parklet adjacent to the Spyhouse off Nicollet Ave.

Workers construct the parklet adjacent to the Spyhouse off Nicollet Ave.

Following the lead of San Francisco, the city of Minneapolis has introduced a "parklet" pilot program.

Mackenzie Turner Bargen, pedestrian planner for the city, tells us each of Minneapolis's first three parklets is intended to be "just a little urban oasis where people can sit and enjoy the city around them."

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"The motivation was to create a public space in the public right of way," she continues. "We have lots of sidewalk cafes around Minneapolis and things like that, but they're dedicated to specific businesses."

Three parklets have been installed as part of the city's pilot program. You can find them at the following spots:

2007 Emerson Ave. N. - hosted by Juxtaposition Arts & Urban Homeworks

212 Third Ave. N. - hosted by Martin Patrick 3 & Transwestern at Colonial Warehouse

2451 Nicollet Ave. S. - hosted by Spyhouse Coffee

Each parklet is built in the street next to the curb in an area roughly equivalent to two parking spaces. Each features a deck, planters, chairs, and tables for anyone to use, and each has a host business responsible for day-to-day upkeep.

Here's a time-lapse video of the Third Avenue parklet being constructed:

According to a press release distributed by the city, the pilot "is a first step in a broader goal of the City to develop tools that enable the coordination of public and private entities toward the enhancement of the public realm and the public right of way."

"The three parklets in the pilot program are owned by the City," the release continues. "Any additional parklets would be purchased, funded and maintained by local businesses and other groups who sponsor them."

Asked if the city is concerned parklets might become havens for loitering and people experiencing homelessness, Turner Bargen says the idea is for each host business to remove furniture from the site each evening.

"It's a public space -- anybody can sit and use the space," she says. "I don't anticipate the space being used without furniture there, but it's something we haven't had to deal with yet."

The total budget for the pilot is $75,000. The three existing parklets will be removed for the season at the end of October.

City officials hope more businesses will be interested in purchasing parklets next year. We asked Turner Bargen what's in it for them.

"There's an aspect of community building," she replies. "It's just an opportunity to provide a space for people to gather and hang out, and when you do that there's a benefit to drawing more people to your given area, and there's that aspect of having a livelier streetscape. And there's a beautification piece to it, of course."

Send your story tips to the author, Aaron Rupar. Follow him on Twitter @atrupar.