Earlier this week, the City of Asheville announced the launch of parklets + shared streets to create more temporary space for businesses so they can serve more customers while adhering to public health guidelines during the pandemic. They’re already appearing around town, and more are scheduled to pop up over the next month. The City has approved them through Oct. 31.
What exactly is a parklet?
Parklets — or sidewalk extensions — allow businesses like restaurants to use one to three on-street adjacent public parking spaces for business.
The City will allow businesses to use up to three parking spots adjacent to their property to create a parklet to create space for outdoor dining, merchandise, or safe physical distance for customers + employees.
Before creating a parklet, businesses are required to get approval from the City by submitting a concept plan that includes the layout and materials that will be used. The parklet must adhere to Temporary Outdoor Expansion Guidelines, which include info on insurance requirements, proof of occupancy + letters of support from landlords and neighboring businesses.
Note: Parklets may only be created on streets where the speed limit is 25 mph or less, and ADA parking spaces may not be used.
Businesses may also expand into privately-owned parking lots + landscaped areas – but must register to do so. They can also register to expand onto public sidewalks, if six feet of distance between people can be maintained.
Shared streets allow outdoor use by converting whole blocks to pedestrian priority areas. That means vehicles are allowed, but traffic will be reduced or slowed by redirecting or narrowing space for driving. Emergency vehicle access, ADA parking, and loading zones will still be available.
The first shared streets were launched on The Block last Friday (Juneteenth) and will be installed this week in the South Slope on Banks and Buxton Ave., and on Wall St., Church St. + portions of College St. in the next three weeks.
What else do I need to know?
The City has been working hard to accommodate businesses, organizations, and individuals while also keeping folks safe. Last month, officials launched parking for curbside pickup in the commercial district. Earlier this month, they also expanded pedestrian-only areas to keep protestors safe while demonstrating downtown.
They’ll be releasing a survey at a later date to get community feedback on how parklets + shared streets are working.