Dave Reid
Eyes on Milwaukee

Milwaukee’s First Parklet!

A global movement to turn parking spaces into public amenities has spread to the East Side, with a new, curbside dining patio.

By - Aug 19th, 2013 03:53 pm
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Divino Wine & Dine and Two Bucks Parklet. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

Divino Wine & Dine and Two Bucks Parklet. Photo by Mariiana Tzotcheva.

Milwaukee’s first curbside dining parklet was recently installed on the 2300 block of N. Murray St. in front of Davino Wine & Dine and Two Bucks, in the heart of the East Side. Parklets reuse parking spaces to expand the sidewalk and provide such amenities as cafe seating and green space.

The first, unofficial parklet in the US was created in 2005 by the Rebar Group in San Francisco. They refashioned a parking space by rolling out some sod, and adding a tree all the while still feeding the meter. Since 2005 the idea of reclaiming streetspace for a higher and better use has spread to cities around the world in a large part due to Park(ING) Day, which has highlighted the possible uses of parking spots as cafe seating, green space, bike corrals, and for endless other potential uses. This year, Park(ING) Day will be held on Friday, September 20th, and Urban Milwaukee will once again be setting up a parklet on Milwaukee St.

In recent years we’ve seen on-street bike corrals, a close cousin of the parklet, pop-up at the Prospect Ave. Alterra, (now Colectivo), The Nomad, and Cafe Hollander.

Today, cities such as San Francisco, Philadelphia, New York, Portland, and Milwaukee are actively working to allow parklets as a recognized use of public space. Milwaukee’s first full-fledged parklet extends the seating areas for Davino Wine & Dine and Two Bucks by replacing a former loading zone and two metered parking spaces with a wooden patio. This design provides a simple, affordable way for these businesses to add additional cafe seating.

The ribbon-cutting and grand opening celebration for this parklet will take place at noon, on Friday, August 23rd, in front of Divino Wine & Dine and Two Bucks, 2315-2321 N. Murray Ave.

Biking the Distance

After running the Bike Czar story, “Biking the Rails Trails,” which featured a group of bicyclists that took the train up to Saint Paul, MN and biked back to Milwaukee, WI, we were immediately called out on twitter by user AsInClarkKent. He wasn’t impressed and pointed us to Milwaukeeans Jeremy and Jamie Ault who are currently on day 49 of their bike ride across the country. They are riding the Northern Tier Route that takes them from Washington to Maine. You can follow their journey on their blog Czech the Line.

Quick Hits

  • The Third Ward location of Colectivo (formerly Alterra) is under construction. The first cafe to open with the new name will soon be serving coffee on Saint Paul Ave. The designs show an active and engaging cafe that invites customers to linger and become a part of the streetlife. Colectivo’s Madison location is the only cafe currently selling their coffee beer in addition to coffee; will the Third Ward location be the next?

    Demolition has started on the Historic Schlitz Brew House. Photo by Dave Reid.

    Demolition has started on the Historic Schlitz Brew House. Photo by Dave Reid.

  • Back in July Miron Construction sought bids for construction contracts on the Pabst Professional Center at The Brewery; it appears construction should begin shortly.
  • If you’re looking for work, the Riverkeepers are looking for a new Executive Director to replace outgoing Karen Schapiro. To apply you need to submit all materials by 9:00 a.m. Monday September 9. For more information on the job, the Executive Director job description is available here.
  • The unfortunate loss of Milwaukee’s history continues at Schlitz Park. Demolition has begun on the historic Schlitz Brew house, a building often described as a “Cathedral,” yet Gary Grunau, the property owner, was unable or unwilling to save this piece of Milwaukee’s history.
Categories: Eyes on Milwaukee

9 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Milwaukee’s First Parklet!”

  1. Andy says:

    Dave,

    While this particular use seems cool and fun, I am completely opposed to the notion of “parklets” for a number of reasons.

    First, these usually pop up in neighborhoods that already have a shortage of parking. North ave’s entertainment area is a good example of this. At peak times, it is very difficult to find parking. While public transportation may suit some in this area, the businesses as a whole rely on more then just local neighborhood patrons and those who can travel there by public transit. Allowing these parklets on any meaningful scale would be detrimental… thus I must be opposed to it.

    Second, the streets are maintained and paid for by the public at large. I oppose any private use for this public space w/o any compensation by the private users AND without simultaneous public benefit. I wonder if the supporters of these parklets that use public space are also supporters of private businesses operating on county park lands.

    Third, this seems like an attack on the automobile simply for the sake of being an attack on the automobile. I support a governance that supports all lifestyles. Thus, I believe there is room for funding all modes of transportation, car, bike, and rail. Causing conflict with users of any form of transportation that you don’t like only further causes the rifts that make it more difficult to share limited resources. This stunt only serves to do that.

  2. Mitch says:

    Andy,

    You are correct in that the street is public space and should not be used by a private entity without compensation, however I can assure you that the city did receive charge permit and review fees, along with compensation to occupy a public space. Having worked with many construction projects you can’t occupy any street parking without compensating the city.

    In regards to parking I live near North Ave and often drive to North Ave along with many locations downtown and never have a problem finding a parking space within 1-2 blocks of my destination. i really feel that the parking problem is more of a perception issue as the parking lot at Mayfair is often the equivalent of a 1-2 block walk.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Andy There is a public surface parking lot directly across the street from this and a massive parking garage one block from this site that is available for the public use and is never full.

    And the businesses pay to use the space, and the public gains a larger benefit that automobile storage for the few. PS I have no problem with uses such as Alterra er Colectivo on the lakefront.

    This is a high-density part of a city not a suburb, it should not be designed for the automobile, because the automobile specifically limits what makes this neighborhood great: Density and walkability.

  4. Bill Sell says:

    Dave, this is the kind of innovation that underscores the maxim: people shop, cars do not. Now, I want drivers to come to those stores, but an urban commercial street is designed for foot traffic more than a shopping mall. And as pedestrians appear in larger numbers, they prove the concept of appealing to pedestrians (bike, bus, drivers who have parked). To bend always in favor of each car may not reflect what this urban area is becoming.

    BTW, this may be the first permanent parklet. But, the First one, tho temporary, appeared in Bay View a few years ago at KK & Lincoln – installed for a day by IN:SITE, the temporary art curators who have decorated several spaces in our city. And, Andy, before you jump in here: the artists were thoughtful of you. They kept their 2 or 3 occupied parking meters full of quarters. And they had the required city permits.

  5. Andy says:

    I get it, this isn’t a big deal at this location. And because I’m a huge fan of Two Bucks I love the extra outdoor space AND I appreciate how it will continue to further liven up the street. My main concern here is that this would be a free for all to occupy valuable parking spaces in areas that desperately need it. One “parklet” on Murray isn’t going to change much… but you can not deny that many people would love to see the elimination of many, if not most, of the parking in our urban core.

    We have to tread carefully so we don’t so completely eliminate the possibility of using the automobile in our city to visit any popular areas. Lets not lose the balance that a walkable neighborhood can have where it also attracts visitors who’s only logical transportation to the area is indeed the car.

  6. Hereiam says:

    @Andy street parking isn’t free, it costs the City (and us citizens) in lost opportunity.

    The most recent study I could locate determined that our downtown parking costs are very low relative to other cities (http://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/stories/2004/08/02/story4.html?page=all). Given the below market rates for parking in Milwaukee, it seems that the highest and best use of lots of parking would be to utilize it for outdoor dining or more development, like they are here.

    That said, I don’t think anyone on this site wants all downtown parking eliminated. Instead, they just don’t want to avoid wasted space/opportunity. According to another study, downtown parking usage is only at 67% (http://city.milwaukee.gov/ImageLibrary/Groups/cityDCD/planning/plans/downtown1/pdfs/DowntownParkingStudyDec2010.pdf). That’s a full 1/3 of downtown parking that is not being utilized. I wouldn’t suggest getting rid of all downtown parking, but I would be happy to see a third of our currently parking disappear overnight.

    Also, even though those studies specifically analyzed the downtown market, I’ve lived on the East Side between Brady and North for almost all of the last decade and can count on one hand the number of times have had to park more than 1-2 blocks from my destination (mostly during neighborhood festivals). I don’t have support for a specific amount of parking oversupply, but it seems to be about as great as downtown. Plus, if the streetcar is implemented and expanded to UWM, the current levels of parking on the East Side could go much lower.

  7. SFScott says:

    Are these new parklets for the sole use of customers of the sponsoring businesses? If so, that’s a big difference between those in MKE and those here in San Francisco. Here, while the businesses may benefit from the space, it must be open to public use, even for those who are not customers. That, to me seems like a better use of public space.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @SFScott That is a good question, though one I don’t have an answer for yet. That said I know the business has to pay for these spots so I’m guessing they are primarily for the businesses use. That said we do have 3 on-street bike corrals that anyone is welcome to park at.

  9. Omri says:

    Uh, Andy, I am a private entity. And I often use public space to store my car, without compensation.

    There might be better uses for that space.

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