Learn About Parklet Design and Construction Considerations

Parklet Design & Construction

Bringing your parklet vision into reality.

The most critical factors in bringing an initial vision for a public parklet into reality are:

Complying with all regulations on positioning and design od street seating structures
Funding the cost of materials, design work and construction
Designing a unique, attractive, functional, yet removable structure
Guaranteeing ongoing maintenance, repairs and seasonal removal (where applicable)

The Permit Process

To bring your vision to fruition, you’ll need to begin the permit application process as soon as possible.  This process will vary depending on your location, but the notes below should help with some initial guidance of what to expect.

First you’ll need to nominate an individual or group who is prepared to accept responsibility and stewardship for managing the entire process, who is prepared to accept liability and is committed to meeting all maintenance requirements and expenses.
Find out the time frame in which parklet proposals are accepted by the city. Contact the department responsible for managing parklets (commonly the Department of Transportation) and ask them about their deadlines. Proposals are typically only accepted within a short period of time each year.
Build your case for establishing a parklet in the community, get local support and finalize financing. Inform neighboring business owners, residents and merchant organizations of your intention and ask for letters confirming their approval, which you will submit with your application. This is a critical step, as public rejection after your application is submitted could cause significant delays.
Contact the local department responsible for managing parklets to obtain the application paperwork and requirements for submitting the complete proposal package. Submit your proposal during the annual time allowed.
Be aware that the number of proposals submitted could exceed the number of new parklets allowed by the city. If your proposal is chosen, you will most likely be asked to pay initial fees immediately.
Once initial fees have been paid, the city might post a notice on a storefront in the immediate vicinity of your proposed parklet. The public will have the right to object to your parklet proposal within a specified period.  A large number of objections could prompt a public hearing and would drastically increase the length of approval process, so it pays to get local support before submitting your proposal.
Next you’ll most likely be asked to discuss your proposed parklet design with city officials, ensuring it meets all guidelines. Additional agencies may review your design and require revisions or clarification before you achieve a final stamp of approval.
Once your parklet design has been approved and all documentation is complete, you’ll be asked for final permit fees. Once your fees are paid, a permit will be issued and you can begin constructing your parklet.
City officials may require a site inspection before you start construction, specify a maximum number of days in which the installation must be completed, and require a final inspection when construction is complete.

Design & Construction

Without a doubt, the costs incurred in building a parklet are the #1 reason why there aren’t more parklets in every city today.  Considering application and permit fees, architectural design fees, materials and construction costs, it’s not uncommon for a relatively simple parklet with basic decking, limited seating, and minimal landscaping to cost in excess of $20,000.  Parklets with more elaborate designs, higher quality materials and more extensive landscaping, can cost from $35,000 to $50,000.

Since parklets are not normally constructed by local authorities, but must be financed and managed by community groups or local businesses, it can be difficult to raise  funds for a public facility that also requires ongoing expenditure on landscaping, cleaning, refurbishing, wear and tear and damage due to misuse or weather.  Especially where in some cases, the structure may have a lifespan as little as two years e.g. where the parklet has to be disassembled and reassembled on a seasonal basis.

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