Sociability and Engagement is at the Heart of Every Successful Community.
Everyone who knows me knows I’m a social person. So, it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite parts of the job is facilitating engagement with the various groups of people I meet. Whether it is a business owner, employee, resident or visitor, hearing their stories and learning from their experiences helps shape the way I see our community—the challenges we face and the potential we have.
Enter the parklet! Parklets take advantage of underutilized urban spaces (such as parking spots) and re-envision them as community gathering places. In addition to added seating and greenspace, parklets can also include pop-up gyms, cafés, art galleries, libraries – the possibilities are endless. At their core, these spaces bring together friends and strangers, drive patrons to local businesses and spark deeper connections to one's neighborhood.
Creating New Public Spaces
It’s with this goal of sparking connections that, in partnership with the County, we are unveiling Arlington’s first permanent parklet in the heart of Rosslyn. We’ll launch the parklet this Thursday, May 31st, and it will be located at the corner of Oak Street and Wilson Boulevard. While there have been many temporary parklets installed throughout the area, I’m pretty thrilled that this will be the first permanent parklet for the entire DC-region.
Our parklet project is a key aspect of the Streetscape Elements Master Plan—part of Arlington County-passed Realize Rosslyn sector plan—and is a two-year prototype installation. Meaning it’s a test project to allow us see it in action, learn how we can improve it and discover the potential for replication. Our hope is that, eventually, parklets could be installed across Arlington.
What Neighborhoods Gain from Parklets
First, parklets can drive interaction and engagement—the cornerstones of a connected community. They also offer additional opportunities for experience-driven activities and events. Residents and businesses want to be in neighborhoods that are vibrant and have a sense of community, and in urban settings with limited open space, that can be a challenge. The mobile and flexible nature of parklets offer a unique, cost-effective solution.
Second, parklets can improve a neighborhood’s visual appeal. As extensions of the sidewalk, these spaces provide added vibrancy in areas that might be lacking. When combined with other similarly designed street and sidewalk elements—such as bike racks or signage—as in the case of Rosslyn, the result is a distinctive, cohesive and contemporary character.
Lastly, parklets can provide an economic boost for neighborhoods. Reportedly, businesses adjacent to parklets, on average, see a nine to twenty percent increase in revenue. They also provide experiences at the front door of companies, keeping customers at businesses longer and bringing them back. That said, it’s important to note that the Rosslyn parklet will be completely free and open to the public at all times.
We Want Your Feedback and Involvement!
First, I encourage you to join us for the Rosslyn Parklet launch event this Thursday, May 31, from 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., and then to visit whenever you like after the launch.
Secondly, we hope you’ll make it your own – why not organize a game of dominos, cards or simply bring a few co-workers or neighbors out to eat lunch?
And finally, community feedback is important to us - this is public space, so you, the public should help shape the future of parklets in our region. So, we encourage you to share your feedback at rosslynva.org/parklet. I hope to see you out at the parklet, being a social person, I would love to meet you!