Depave Paradise: Reclaiming Parking Lots for Park Space

The promoters of a new park hope to provide a model for how replacing surface parking lots with green space can mitigate urban heat and boost urban biodiversity.

1 minute read

June 7, 2022, 6:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Writing in Greater Greater Washington, Wyatt Gordon describes plans for a new park in one of Richmond, Virginia’s most park-poor areas. “By converting a 381 space surface parking lot into a new public park, the Science Museum of Virginia hopes to show folks that the city can rebuild a more comfortable and climate resilient future for its main boulevard if only we’re willing to depave it.”

With only 7 percent of city land used for parks and green space, Richmond has less equitable access to green space than most U.S. cities, according to the Trust for Public Land. As Gordon points out, “A closer look reveals that the issue may be worse than the data shows as parcels counted as greenspace include cemeteries, road medians, and schoolyards that may not actually allow for safe or public access.”

Dr. Jeremy Hoffman, chief scientist at the Science Museum, plans to monitor changes in air and surface temperatures as the project moves forward. “The long-term hope is that other property owners and state institutions in the area with large surface lots may see the value of depaving and similarly shift their parking underground, stack it in a deck, or get rid of it altogether as Broad Street transitions to a more transit-oriented area.”

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