Revolutionizing the Road – Parklets on 4th Street

June 20, 2011 § 8 Comments

Studio One Eleven has been working with two businesses on Long Beach’s Retro Row to develop the very first parklet program in Southern California. Similar programs are beginning to flourish in New York and San Francisco, so we are excited to have the opportunity to try one in our own hometown.

But what exactly is a parklet?

Well, a parklet is a “sidewalk oasis” that is built into the stalls of parallel parking spots in order to create more pedestrian space. Parklets extend the width of the sidewalk and usually occupy 1-2 parking spaces, with planters and railing providing separation from the street. They are most often treated as additional dining room space for restaurants, but can be used for anything from bike racks to benches.

The parklets we are creating are for two restaurants on 4th Street: Number Nine and Lola’s Authentic Mexican Cuisine.

Number Nine is a very narrow restaurant, so our 26″x7’ parklet will create more visibility as well as enhanced seating. We plan on using a raised pedestal system called Bison to adjust the height of a wooden platform (we’ve used this same system at the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House with great results), as well as installing C-Channels along the outside edge to aid with street sweeping. Asian-inspired landscaping such as bamboo and horse tail will also be strategically installed, blocking the glare of oncoming headlights while making the most of their ambient light.

Thoughful landscaping will establish a sense of culture.

Lola’s has even greater opportunities, in that we will introduce dining directly adjacent to the restaurant as well as across the sidewalk. There have also been talks of removing the center turn lane and adding bike lanes on either side of the street – this would be ideal because it would increase the distance from the edge of the parklet to traffic while simultaneously encouraging bike traffic and slowing passing cars. Mexican-inspired agave and coastal grasses will complete the look and create a siesta-worthy experience.

The economic viability of these small-scale projects is promising: they are relatively inexpensive, and the businesses currently housing a parklet have reported as much as a 15% increase in sales (due in part to increased visibility and in part to more physical space for customers). It’s exciting to be a part of something new and potentially game-changing for Long Beach, and 4th Street is the perfect place to start. With several vintage stores, the popular Portfolio coffee shop, Fingerprints record store, an art theater, and many other diverse and interesting businesses, it’s definitely worth taking a walk – and we aspire to make that a common occurrence.


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