Starting in late March of this year, the City of Richmond began installing prefabricated parklets at five different locations across the city. This pilot program gives us an opportunity to try parklets on for size as a way of providing more urban public space and supporting small businesses by offering people a place to enjoy pre-purchased take-out meals (table service is not available in public parklets, but people are allowed to eat their take-out meals in them).
The parklets were purchased by the City using federal CARES Act money and locations were identified through the Picnic in a Parklet program, a partnership between the City of Richmond and Venture Richmond. The five locations include:
Colorful, high-quality outdoor furniture was generously donated to Venture Richmond by Downtown furniture retailer LaDiff, which is now on loan at all the parklet locations—making your parklet experience that much more comfortable and inviting. Even the planter boxes are beginning to get filled in by various Richmond green-thumbs like Daniel Klein of Marigold Garden Co.
In addition to the five parklets purchased by the City, two custom-designed parklets are making their way through the City’s permitting process. The first is an elaborate and artistic installation designed by HKS Architects of Richmond, to be placed adjacent to Ms. Bee’s Juice Bar on Brookland Park Blvd. HKS has donated approximately 175 hours of their time to the iterative design of this parklet, which was just granted Urban Design Committee and City Planning Commission approval this month. The parklet is not yet funded, but grassroots fundraising efforts are underway. We hope to make this parklet a reality in the summer of 2021.
The second custom-designed parklet in the works is part of a Bloomberg Philanthropies placemaking grant awarded to the City of Richmond and Venture Richmond last year. Walter Parks Architects is doing pro-bono design for an elegant parklet to be placed in front of ART 180 in the Arts District/Historic Jackson Ward as part of the three-piece grant-funded placemaking project. This parklet will go through the Urban Design Committee and City Planning Commission in May. The full project is scheduled to be completed in August of 2021.
Between the purchase of the five prefabricated parklets by the City of Richmond, the generous donation of furniture from La Diff for those parklets, the hours of pro-bono design work provided by HKS Architects and Walter Parks Architects (both Downtown firms), and the permitting and project coordination work done by Venture Richmond, this a truly an example of the Downtown community coming together to provide more public space and support small businesses across the city.
We hope you find some time to enjoy a picnic in a parklet this spring!