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Parklets And Planters Being Installed In CR
Updated: Tuesday, July 16 2013, 09:45 PM CDT
CEDAR RAPIDS -- This week city crews will be installing removable platforms, called “parklets” in front of Zins restaurant and Theatre Cedar Rapids on 3rd Street in downtown Cedar Rapids. Two more locations will be announced in the coming weeks. The parklets will create additional sidewalk space for outdoor seating areas. Individual parklets are approximately 20 feet by 8 feet, and fit inside a parallel parking spot. Each parklet will have six planters and have a wire fence around the exterior to separate pedestrians from the bike lanes and traffic on 3rd Street.
The parklet program was approved by City Council on May 14, 2013, authorizing the purchase of four platforms to be placed on or near 3rd Street SE. The program is part of a series of improvements to 3rd Street which have occurred over the last month to enhance the connection between the US Cellular Center and New Bohemia. Earlier this month the City restriped 3rd Street to reduce the number of travel lanes to two and to add bike lanes on either side of the road. In addition, twelve planters are being placed in the median along 3rd Street SE between 1st and 4th Avenues. These planters will enhance the streetscape and help make 3rd Street a more inviting and pedestrian friendly thoroughfare.
In 2012, representatives of 3rd Street businesses came to the City requesting improvements to create additional pedestrian space. A full streetscape project that would have narrowed the streets and increased the sidewalk was estimated to cost over $3 million. In December 2012, consultant Jeff Speck presented a plan to complete an overhaul of 3rd Street SE by placing parklets in front of businesses.
At roughly $15,000 a piece, the parklets provide additional pedestrian space for a fraction of the cost of a full streetscape project. The City has worked with the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance to identify locations to test the concept in 2013. Individual businesses are responsible for providing the furnishings for the parklets, including tables and chairs, and for maintaining the parklets. Businesses are also required to maintain liability insurance and lease the property in a manner similar to other sidewalk cafes in downtown. The Downtown District will maintain the planters in the parklets. This fall the City will review the program and make recommendations for the program in future years.