Hattiesburg, Mississippi – On Tuesday, March 2, the Hattiesburg City Council will review two agenda items to establish the City’s first two parklets for two Downtown Hattiesburg eateries: The Porter and Nellie’s Chicken & Daiquiris.
First discussed in a work session in October 2020, parklets are public seating platforms that convert curbside parking spaces into community spaces. Most parklets have a distinctive design that incorporates seating and greenery – accommodating unmet demand for public spaces in thriving retail or commercial districts.
“Very simply, parklets convert spaces typically used for cars into spaces for people,” said Ginger Lowrey, division manager for the City of Hattiesburg’s Planning Division. “These have been implemented in many cities across the South over the last several years, but have also garnered a lot of attention due to businesses and municipalities across the country adapting to COVID-19 protocols.”
Parklets in nature are still required to be public spaces – accessible at any time by the general public – but can be used as an extension of the businesses in which they are placed. For The Porter and Nellie’s Chicken & Daquiries, the City’s parklets will allow for accommodating seating in areas where expanding seating opportunities on private property isn’t possible.
“Not only does the addition of outdoor dining opportunities contribute to the vibrancy of a community; but over the last year, additional outdoor dining has been a go-to solution for many restaurants working to keep patrons socially distanced,” said Andrew Ellard, director of Urban Development. “Because parklets are public spaces, they can also be enjoyed by pedestrians simply relaxing between stops at various other downtown shops.”
According to a Parklet Impact Study by the San Francisco Great Streets Project in 2011, “the presence [of parklets] has also been shown to increase foot traffic, and in some cases revenues, for adjacent businesses.”
As a public-private partnership between the City and each business, the cost of a parklet is determined by the design phase and the final constructed piece. The items up for review by the council are documents that allow the businesses to lease the public parking spaces. This is the first step in creating these outdoor seating spaces.
“This is just one more opportunity to continue building our momentum of quality-of-life enhancements across the City of Hattiesburg,” said Mayor Toby Barker. “From announcing grant funding that will lay the foundation for a food truck park and other retail and restaurant opportunities last week to these parklets today, we will continue to push the needle on project opportunities that feed our ability to be a forward-thinking, premier city in the Gulf South.”