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Rachel Kaufman reports that a new Chicago Department of Transportation placemaking initiative, Make Way for People, includes the installation of parklets called People Spots in parking lanes next to sidewalks.
The city has put in the first People Spot—with seating, plants, and a fence—in Chatham, a neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. The project was funded through a $30,000 grant from AARP, and mobility of the structure was key to its design. “Community groups can disassemble a parklet for storage during Chicago’s harsh winters or simply move it to a new space. And in fact, that’s what the Chatham Business Association plans to do with its parklet—remove it for the winter and reinstall it at a different location on 75th Street in the spring,” says Kaufman.
Kaufman notes that Chicago has had limited success with parklets in other neighborhoods. The cost of installation and maintenance and the loss of parking spaces led to community resistance and, ultimately, the removal of some of the parklets. The new parklets are cheaper to build and more flexible, with the goal of replicating them more easily in other communities.