Parklets: A new kind of public space in Boston

Mission Hill's parklet is located at 1538 Tremont Street. Photo by Courtney Sacco/Metro
Mission Hill’s parklet is located at 1538 Tremont St. Credit: Courtney Sacco/Metro

Boston has opened its first two parklets, which swap parking spots for outdoor seating.

Officials on Thursday unveiled Boston’s first parklets: one at 1528 Tremont St. in Mission Hill, and another at 351 Centre St. in Jamaica Plain.

Metro first reported on Boston’s plan to design and install the public urban patios last October.

“These new parklets provide great outdoor seating options for local residents and customers of our small business,” said Mayor Thomas Menino. “I hope everyone will pay a visit to this newest addition of open space to the Mission Hill business district.”

Students from Mission Hill Grammar School performed a ribbon cutting for the three-space parklet Thursday, then eagerly spread out at the space’s bistro tables and benches.

Adjacent businesses Mike’s Donuts and Lilly’s Pasta will serve as “parklet partners” to provide day-to-day maintenance of the space.

According to city officials, the public spaces are designed to bring activity to neighborhood and commercial districts by offering people a plact to sit, relax and meet for conversation.

Parklets run between $5,000 and $15,000, according to the city’s Transportation Commissioner Thomas Tinlin. The first round of parklets will be paid for with city funds, Tinlin said, however officials hope to create partnerships with local businesses to help fund future parklet development.

The space is created by building a platform to extend an exisitng sidewalk into one or more on-street parking spaces. Benches, tables, chairs, landscaping bike parking stalls and other amenities are placed on the platform to create a “patio-type” gathering space.

Parklets will be open seasonally, with the temporary structures set up mid-spring and taken down in late fall.

Roxbury resident Rafael Gutiérrez, who passed by Thursday’s Mission Hill unveiling, said he approves of the new addition.

“I think it’s very good because it feels like downtown. You can sit and relax, like Newbury Street. It makes sense,” said Gutiérrez. “It feels welcoming.”

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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