A “parklet” including plants, benches and a bike rack may soon take over Lexington Avenue parking spots, as the Downtown Commission endorsed the project last week. The initiative is the first major effort from Open Asheville, a new nonprofit, to apply “tactical urbanism” to downtown.
“The overall thought process is to increase open public space: we feel there’s not enough of it,” Luly Gonzalez, a designer for Open Asheville, tells Xpress. “We’re trying to spearhead placemaking as a liaison between artists, designers, and business.”
The nonprofit still needs to complete the permits for the project from the city, and staff estimate the process could take two to three weeks. After that, Gonzalez says the parklet could be completed within a month, Open Asheville aims to have it up and running by the annual Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival Sept. 1. The parklet will remain for three to six months.
The design for the Lexington Avenue parklet
Open Asheville’s approach is something called “tactical urbanism,” an idea that’s recently gained increasing attention nationwide. It focuses on smaller, faster projects as a way to change an area for the better and create a model for larger initiatives in the future.
“Tactical urbanism aims to get projects on the ground fast, to get a response from the public fast so it leads to bigger things,” Gonzalez says. “The parklet is something small enough that it will make a statement and it had such a positive response in cities like San Francisco.”
The nonprofit will create a “mock parklet” on the spot, the two spots are in front of Izzy’s Coffee and Hip Replacements, from 5 to 8 p.m. this Friday, July 20.
Open Asheville is a relative newcomer — it only started last year — and its main project so far has been a monthly “dining mob” at the Coxe Avenue food truck lot.
“We’re trying to gather more information about what people want to see,” Gonzalez says.
Images from Open Asheville