Parklet on Payne, but what’s a ‘parklet?’


The parklet, which is located in front of Plaza Latina at 927 Payne Ave., was installed in early August and will remain until October.

While the parklet is being cleaned and watched over by Mangos Restaurant, the space is public and available to anyone, not just Mangos’ customers.

Driving south on Payne Avenue, one may have noticed an odd, wooden structure in front of Plaza Latino at 927 Payne Ave., which now houses Mangos Restaurant, a Mexican restaurant that opened there in July last year.

That odd, wooden structure is a parklet, a seasonal community space meant for community building. It was installed during the first weekend of August.

The parklet is a part of the Friendly Streets Initiative, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that helps neighbors with city planning processes.

According to the Friendly Streets Initiative website, “parklets are seasonal extensions of pedestrian space that seek to activate and enliven public space, calm motor vehicle traffic and help communities re-imagine the uses of streets.”

The parklet has made appearances in other parts of St. Paul, such as the corner of Selby and Snelling avenues, and in front of Groundswell, a coffee shop at Thomas and Hamline avenues. 

The idea first popped up in San Francisco and has since spread to other U.S. cities — this particular parklet will be on Payne through October.

While the parklet does take up one parking spot along Payne, the installation is helping a newer business increase sales and envision future outdoor space.

 

Enhancing an outdoor presence

Jaime Aguilar-Estrada, the owner of Mangos, said he wants to set up tables outside his restaurant, creating a sort of sidewalk cafe. He said he also wants to fix up the front of the restaurant to make it stand out to those passing by along Payne.

Anne Dejoy, commercial development director at East Side Neighborhood Development Company (ESNDC), and Isabel Chanslor from Neighborhood Development Center had been working with Mangos to help increase its sales. 

Chanslor first brought up the idea of a parklet, and reached out to Friendly Streets Initiative to inquire about setting one up in front of the restaurant last fall.

Dejoy said that because parklets were successful in other areas, they wanted to try it along Payne.

Between the parklets’ previous success and the fact that Mangos was already looking at having outdoor dining, Dejoy said, “we thought this could really enhance that.”

She said some businesses expressed concern with it becoming a hang out spot, since there have been issues with bus stops along Payne becoming troubled areas where people gather.

Dejoy said the Friendly Streets Initiative said that is a common concern, but they have yet to have issues like that in other areas. She added the parklet draws peoples’ eyes to the street, which is more of a “deterrent for any negative behavior.”

The parklet was set up at no cost to neither Mangos nor ESNDC. Mangos has simply adopted the parklet, keeping it clean for the public to use.

“We just thought it’s a nice gesture, it encourages presence on the street, and it brings visibility to what they hope to do in the future with a sidewalk cafe,” Dejoy said.

 

Marjorie Otto can be reached at 651-748-7816 or at eastside@lillienews.com. Follow her on Twitter at @EastSideM_Otto.

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