Wake Forest Renaissance Plan - September 2017


C h a p t e r 9 P u t P eop l e F i r s t

Charlotte’s Pilot Parklets

Charlotte built two pilot parklets adjacent to a popular urban park in uptown. They were designed by architecture students at UNC Charlotte in a collaborative effort with Charlotte DOT and other uptown stakeholders. They cost approximately $8,000 each and were funded by Mecklenburg County Parks and Recreation who also maintains them as part of the adjacent Romare Bearden Park. Officials have noted that while they could have been built for less, they wanted to use high-quality adjustable construction materials to permit their relocation as necessary. Charlotte considered standards and precedents from a number of other cities including San Francisco, Minneapolis, and Seattle when formulating their program. In doing so, they identified three major points for the placement and construction of new parklets and creative placemaking initiatives: Maintenance. Who keeps them looking nice? How does the City handle complaints if they fall into disrepair? The City doesn’t have the resources to maintain many parklets, so third party groups, like the county parks department, Charlotte Center City Partners, adjacent business owners and neighborhood groups will have to take responsibility for them. Liability. Who’s property are they? How are they insured and what happens if the property is damaged? Charlotte included language in their agreements that indicates the applicants are liable for any damages, and they must show a certificate of insurance in their application materials. Setting a Precedent. It’s important to provide guidance about the locations where parklets are appropriate as well as a community’s design expectations. Like public plazas and parks, parklets are highly visible and should be very useful. After all, the goal is to reclaim space from a parked car to give back to people. They must be attractive and well-designed, but the standards need to be flexible enough for the program to be accessible to all.

Parking Day 2014 and 2015 in Uptown Charlotte

Parking Day is an annual event that started in San Francisco as a way to bring attention to the importance of public space by taking over on-street parking spaces and replacing them with little parks. Charlotte demonstrated Parking Day along a 1 mile stretch of its main street, Tryon Street, in uptown in 2014 and 2015, turning about 10 spots to parklets for a day. Local designers were invited to participate and compete as teams to design each parklet differently. They were encouraged to use found, reusable and recyclable materials. Judges toured each parklet and voted on the best one while the public also had opportunities to weigh in. While Tryon Street is a handsome and pedestrian-friendly street today, layering in the richness and detail of parklets along its length provided a further encouragement to think differently about a city’s right-of-way.

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