Parklets. A cute term? Perhaps. A cute strip of land? Okay. A cute idea? Sure. University City’s second temporary street park this summer will be installed next month at 261 S. 44th St. in front of Honest Tom’s Taco Shop and the Lil Pop Shop, around the corner from Local 44.

Future parklet

“Our Parklets were partly inspired by those in San Francisco as a way to reclaim some asphalt and turn it into an area of respite,” said University City District capital projects manager Nate Hommel.

The space will occupy no more than two parking spaces on 44th Street, and be installed after the resurfacing of 44th Street, likely the week of August 13. Last year, Philadelphia’s first parklet remained at 43rd and Baltimore until late November, and this year UCD is exploring options to keep parklets warm during the cold months. They’re also exploring various programming options and innovative ways to attract people to the readapted public spaces.

“Having lived in Denmark, I assure you that if a space is nice enough, people will want to be out there even during the somewhat colder months if there are the right accommodations,” said Hommel.

Another angle

The process of approving the locations for the parklets involved a multi-office collaboration between Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell, the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities, neighbors, shopkeepers and more. Neighborhood approval by the majority of property owners on the street is essential, according to Hommel.

Jules Dingle of Local design firm Digsau provided the designs for all of UCD’s parklets, with UCD planning to announce one more parklet location this summer. The railings and planters can be interchanged (think IKEA), as Dingle applied a modular approach. That means a single parklet, can be made into a double, or a triple, as well as allow for easy additions and changes over the years.

All right, West Philly is out ahead of the rest town, again. But other neighborhoods are following suit, with several other parklets coming to other locations around town later this summer. We’ll keep an eye out for them, and let you know when they’re ready for action.

–Lou Mancinelli