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Seattle parking spots about to give way to parklets

A proposed design show the view looking east along Olive Way at the sidewalk cafe and parklet stairs, with an on-street bike corral in the foreground (image courtesy of SDOT/Boxwood)
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Looking for a little sanctuary in the middle of the city? You might just want to step off the curb and into one of Seattle's soon to open parklets.

The city is getting set to launch the first of several of the micro-gathering places taking up several parking spaces in Capitol Hill, Belltown, and the International District.

A parklet is a small segment of the right-of-way that has been converted from private automobile use to a public space for all to enjoy. Parklets are generally one or two parking spaces long, although they can also stretch for a block or more.

The city is launching a pilot program to see if they catch on like they have in a number of other cities, including San Francisco.

"We live in a city with a limited number of neighborhood parks and open spaces: parklets provide valuable privately-funded and privately-maintained public spaces for people to read, sip a cup of coffee or enjoy a bite to eat, and socialize. Parklets convert an on-street parking space (or spaces) into a community gathering place, creating more vibrant neighborhoods and activating our streets," says the Seattle Department of Transportation on its website.

The parklets are designed, constructed and maintained by local businesses, residents or community groups. The city can reject the applications if the site is deemed inappropriate, finds insufficient parking supply in the neighborhood, or discovers a lack of community support.

The Capitol Hill parklet is sponsored by Montana Bar. It includes seating and a partially-covered area along with planter boxes. Plans call for a nearby street cafe in the future as well.

The Belltown parklet is hosted by City Hostel Seattle and features seating, retractable canopies, game boards, planter boxes, and bike share parking.

Both are scheduled to open in August following a public comment period.

A third parklet in Chinatown is expected to open by the end of the summer and feature seating, tables and planter boxes.

If the parklets are warmly received, the city is expected to expand their availability to other neighborhoods next year.


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