Covington Embraces Idea of Transforming On-Street Parking Into Public Spaces

Five sites and designs were recently selected for bringing parklets to the heart of Covington. The announcement came on Friday, January 15 and marked the conclusion of a design-build competition called Curb’d.

Organizers say that the intent of the competition was to support Covington’s business districts by promoting walkability, connectivity and placemaking – topics that align with the Haile/U.S. Bank Foundation, Renaissance Covington and MainStrasse Village Association, which provided financial support for the competition.

The five selected sites are also seen as a pathway link between the MainStrasse and Renaissance districts in Covington’s downtown.

First popularized in North America in San Francisco, parklets have grown in popularity over the years particularly in neighborhood business districts looking to reclaim public space from cars for people walking, biking, shopping or simply relaxing. Over the years, cities, like Chicago, have even embraced the idea so much that specific design guidelines and practices have been institutionalized to lend legitimacy to the movement.

In Cincinnati that has so far not been the case.

In 2012, a parklet program was proposed for Over-the-Rhine, but the effort never gained the community support, funding and endorsement from City Hall that it would ultimately require. Since that time, ideas have been pitched to develop a parklet in front of Tucker’s Restaurant on Vine Street, but those efforts have also fallen short.

Aside from that, the closest the region has come to experiencing the transformation of on-street parking spaces into other uses has come in the form of the international celebration of PARK(ing) Day.

While parklets have generally become known as public seating areas or small parks, the organizers of Curb’d said they wanted to push the limits with this competition.

“The examples that we showed the businesses and designers in our information sessions were glow-in-the-dark swings, a mini-movie theater, and a bus stop that resembled an old school radio,” explained Sam O’Connor, Curb’d project coordinator. “Ultimately, we wanted our design teams to really discover the potential of a parking space.”

After finding businesses interested in participating, O’Connor says they, in cooperation with the participating businesses, then proceeded to curate a collection of 12 design teams that would come up with proposals for the spaces. The selected design teams then worked with local fabrication workshops to discuss their ideas and work through the logistics of turning their designs into reality.

After some further refinement, five design teams had their proposals selected to receive funding to have them built.

A+D Design developed what they called Hopscotch Garden for space in front of Braxton Brewing on W. Seventh Street, and will work with 3dx on fabrication. The concept calls for a space that will allow for people to sit and enjoy a beer or coffee outside, while also offering a hopscotch zone.

BPHOGS Design came up with The Boxing Ring for a location in front of Cutman Barbershop and Flow. They will work with Weld Rite Industries to produce the parklet, which will include passive spaces for seating and dining. The parklet will also include several programmed spaces, which, fittingly enough, will include speed bags positioned along the sidewalk to allow for maximum accessibility, and a center area for a game of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em.

Hub+Weber Architects designed a parklet intended for people to exercise and enjoy virtual trips to far away destinations, or even classic movies shown on a projector powered by the pedaling of the bikes. The stationary bicycle space will be located in front of Inspirado at Madison Gallery.

In front of Left Bank Coffeehouse, Seth Trance and Harry Ross developed a concept they call Wish-Igloo, which they hope will promote engagement between the first person who uses the parklet and the last person who does so. Trance and Ross believe this will be accomplished through the parklet’s striking design that is both changeable and invites users to physically manipulate the space.

The final project is also, perhaps, the most unique. To be located next to Stoney’s Village Toy Shoppe, John Noble & Team came up with a design that includes a range of engaging toys for children of varying ages. In essence, the parklet is seen as a way to extend the shop’s culture out onto the street, while also encouraging children to be more active.

Fabrication of each of the five parklets is expected to begin within the next week or so, with installation taking place the first week of May. O’Connor says they plan to do a grand reveal on Friday, May 6, with the parklets staying in place until the end of October when they will then be taken down.

EDITORIAL NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that MSA Architects designed ‘The Boxing Ring’ parklet for in front of Cutman Barbershop. That parklet design was actually produced by BPHOGS Design. Additionally, due to a mix-up in winning project announcements, it was incorrectly stated that Hub+Weber Architects designed the coloring lounge concept for in front of Madison Gallery. Hub+Weber Architects actually designed a stationary bicycle parklet. Both items have been corrected in this story.

22 Photos From the 2014 Edition of Park(ing) Day in Cincinnati

The 2014 edition of the international protest related to the wasteful use of public land for automobile parking took place this past Friday. PARK(ing) Day, as it is known, took place in hundreds of cities across the globe, including Cincinnati.

As with past years, the majority of Cincinnati’s parking spaces turned temporary parks or hangouts were concentrated in the center city. Perhaps the most prominent installations were in Over-the-Rhine and across the river in Covington.

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EDITORIAL NOTE: All 22 photos were taken by Travis Estell and Bradley Cooper for UrbanCincy on Friday, September 19.

Cincinnatians transform dozens of parking spaces into temporary parks

For the fifth straight year Cincinnati has participated in the international advocacy effort known as Park(ing) Day. The event, which takes place annually on the fourth Friday in September, aims to draw attention to how much public space is dedicated to automobile parking in our communities. Community organizers do this by taking over on-street parking spaces in cities throughout the world, and turning them into temporary spaces that are more usable by the general public.

In past years Cincinnati has seen parking spaces transformed in the Central Business District, Over-the-Rhine and Clifton Heights. The Central Business District has served as the most hostile location for the activists with several being confronted by business owners and police in past years. Over-the-Rhine, on the contrary, has become the defacto home for the movement, and in 2012 saw more than a dozen spaces converted in the historic neighborhood.


Temporary park/cafe space on Main Street outside of Park+Vine. Photograph by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy.

Cincinnati’s 2012 campaign took on a much different flavor than in past years. Instead of a small collection of grassroots spaces, Merchants of Main Street partnered with Art on the Streets to create temporary art in spaces up and down Main Street between Central Parkway and Liberty Street. The effort included ballet dancers, painters, art installations, and a violinist between 5pm and 7pm.

While the active art spaces took place outside of core business hours, when many Park(ing) Day spaces are set up due to parking demand, organizers were able to dramatically increase the number of converted spaces, and the number of people involved.

Also showcased during this year’s Park(ing) Day was a preview version of what will become Cincinnati’s first parklet – a mini-park built on top of an on-street parking space – in front of Tucker’s on Vine Street.

The following slideshow highlights many of the parking spaces transformed into other uses during Cincinnati’s 2012 Park(ing) Day. All photographs were taken by Travis Estell for UrbanCincy.

Cincinnati PARKing Day: Lunchtime

We’ve been having a blast down on Vine Street for Cincinnati Park(ing) Day. So far the PARKing spot participants are as follows:
Segway Cincinnati
Park+Vine
Urban Roots
Free Store Food Bank
The cool kids (John, Alicia, Jocelyn, Jenny and friends)

It is rumored that Tucker’s will be having their parking spot (possibly with live music!) open later today. There have been people stopping by all morning and now into the afternoon. It’s been great to meet new people and take a minute to enjoy the streetscape of Cincinnati. It’s slowed down, and the spots have consolidated a little, but I’ll be around until around 5pm. Come hang out in a re-purposed parking spot at PARK(ing) Day!

Cincinnati PARK(ing) Day

Today is National PARK(ing) Day. In 2005, San Francisco art collaborative REBAR decided to take over a metered parking space for a day and turn it into a public space. The ratio of public space to parking space in San Francisco is heavily skewed toward parking. In 2006 it went public, and now PARK(ing) Day is celebrated all over the world.

Various individuals and business in the Cincinnati area have come together to make spaces for the public to enjoy. You can check out the map of individual locations here. There are currently several spaces taken up on Vine Street near Central Parkway, outside the Segway store and Park+Vine. Check back later for updates of other PARK(ing) spots around the city!