Get a Glimpse of Arlington’s First “Parklet”

It’s scheduled to open in Rosslyn next spring.


Rosslyn’s parklet plan. Courtesy of the Rosslyn Business Improvement District.

What’s a parklet? If you’re unfamiliar with this urban design trend that started in San Francisco and is sweeping the country, you can check out the prototype for Arlington’s first at an open house this Friday.

Parklets are mini-parks that extend the sidewalk and reclaim space that was originally reserved for cars. Outfitted with tables, chairs, planters, trellises and other elements, such as bike racks and litter bins, their aim is to encourage people-friendly, rather than car-friendly, activities.  Parklets have popped up in such diverse places as Montpelier, Vermont; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Boston; Oakland and Los Angeles. There were about 190 in the United States as of 2015, according to the American Planning Association.

A parklet in Los Angeles. Photo by People St.

The Rosslyn parklet is part of the neighborhood’s streetscape elements master plan, which maps out a strategy to overhaul the office-heavy neighborhood as its restaurants and retails stores expand, creating a more active, pedestrian-friendly environment, according to the Rosslyn Business Improvement District. The parklet will take up two to three parking spaces, says Douglas Plowman, the BID’s urban planning and design manager.

“It offers a little greenery, a little respite in the central core,” Plowman says. “It’s a great way to parachute in a little public space.”

The Friday open house will run from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. A temporary green-turf lawn and chairs will be installed at the corner of North Oak Street and Wilson Boulevard, where the parklet, which is slated to be 30 feet long and just under 7 feet wide, will be placed in 2018. Plowman will be available to answer questions, and the BID will give visitors discount cards for Rosslyn restaurants. AllSpice Café & Catering will serve free coffee and bagels.


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