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Parklets offer innovative solution to merchants struggling with occupancy limits

Posted June 15, 2020

an example of a parklet
Parklets provide an extension of a restaurant or bar's traditional footprint. (Photo courtesy of National Association of City Transportation Officials)

Restaurants and bars in Fort Worth have struggled with capacity restrictions that are part of the state’s ongoing efforts to reopen the economy. Their buildings simply don’t have enough space to accommodate patrons due to the 50% and 75% occupancy restrictions placed on these businesses.

Fort Worth’s Transportation & Public Works Department has an answer: allow temporary use of on-street parking spaces as “parklets” to increase seating capacity for restaurants and bars in response to COVID-19 business capacity restrictions.

A parklet is a pedestrian space created by building a temporary sidewalk extension within an on-street parking space with amenities such as seating, art and landscaping. Parklets are used to activate pedestrian street activity, and they support economic development by encouraging foot traffic at local businesses. The concept originated in San Francisco in 2005 and has been implemented by cities across the world. Locally, Near Southside Inc. hosts a popular parklet event annually that coincides with international Park(ing) Day in September.

Stakeholders in several Fort Worth business districts have expressed interest in using the parklet concept to expand seating capacity for businesses impacted by the state-ordered capacity limits.

Fort Worth is implementing a six-month pilot program. During this time, businesses in entertainment districts can apply for a permit to develop a parklet or street patio in front of their business. The parklet will serve as an extension of the COVID-19-impacted business. Food and beverage service is allowed, and businesses have the ability to limit parklets to customers only. National Association of City Transportation Officials parklet design guidelines will be followed.

Apply online for a parklet.

To learn more, contact TPW Department Assistant Director Tanya Brooks at 817-392-7861.

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