The Parklet Comes to Rochester
by Gino Fanelli | published May. 6th, 2015
A parklet is essentially exactly what it sounds like; a small space designed to resemble a miniature park, usually implemented over the spot of parking spaces as a setting for people to sit or lock up their bikes. Rochester's first parklet, whose construction is planned to begin this summer, will be located at Joe Bean Coffee Roasters at 1344 University Ave.
Owner of Joe Bean Kathy Turiano explained the process of getting the project underway.
"We've been at the location we've been at for four years in the City of Rochester, and primarily we've been focused on the inside of our space," said Turiano. "But the last couple of years we've been trying to make the outside area more friendly and more inviting. And one of the big problems has been this long fire lane, a defunct fire lane, that says "NO PARKING" right on the sidewalk. Since its defunct, you can park there and there's even signs saying '30 minute parking'. So that was a point of confusion for our customers, and for outside seating, it looked like you were sitting in a fire lane."
While the city advised Turiano that she could paint over the fire lane designation, a notice in the lack of green space in the area as well as a trip to San Francisco, the home of the parklet, inspired Turiano to put the parklet project into motion.
"We went to the city officials and suggested the idea of an alternative seating spot like you see in a lot of west coast cities," Turiano said. "The
Turiano went on to explain the inception of the Joe Bean Parklet is to be considered a prototype project for other parklets to be implemented in the future throughout the city. These parklets, as is the case with the majority of these spaces throughout the country, are built not as a venture from the city itself, but as a collaboration between local businesses and architecture firms.
RIT alumnus and owner of Staach, a local company aimed at designing environmentally sustainable furniture, Seth Eshelman is the chief designer of the Rochester parklet project.
"Kathy approached me about this last summer, and I've known about parklets for years through my travels," Eshelman said. "And we've basically spent the last nine months setting up a plan, doing the research and gathering information on parklets. Also getting full city endorsement of the project, not only for this, but a city-wide parklet project. So this is merely the first of many, many to come, which is really exciting."
Staach is currently in the process of redesigning the entirety of the site outside of Joe Bean following receiving full city endorsement. Currently, the parklet is planned to be nine-feet wide by upwards of 90 feet long, designed to be an inviting community space with features of potted plants, a bike corral and extended seating, not only for customers of Joe Bean but any passerby as well. However, the city's endorsement does not denote city funding, and thus this parklet, much larger than the traditional single or double parking space sized areas, is an extremely costly endeavor, relying heavily on community involvement.
"There's not going to be any money contributed by the city," Eshelman said. "There's probably going to be some kind of crowd-sourcing used to get donators. The city will be working with us solely from an overlooking standpoint, and they will be able to contribute signage or any other needs that fall under [the Department of Environmental Services]."
Turiano went on to explain the actual cost of the parklet.
"We're looking at doing a phased approach, and frankly we're still working on what exactly the cost will be, because of things like underneath the sidewalk or what special measures need to be done on the design or architecture ends" Turiano said. "If I had to make an estimate, I'd say it would probably be around 30 to 40,000 dollars, just based on the size."
This cost is a far cry from those of the traditional costs found in San Francisco. According to the People Powered Movement, the average expected cost for a parklet in the San Francisco area is between $5,000-15,000. This is of course due to these projects' tendency to be much less
The Rochester parklet, as stated by Turiano, is slated for unveiling in Spring of 2016, you can follow the plans and progress at