Spaces to Places

Transforming Public Spaces into Vibrant Places for the Community.

How to Create a Parklet

Many REALTOR® Associations are looking for placemaking projects to do in their community but are at a loss for what to do.   For them, I recommend a parklet because every community has a parking spot or two which could be transformed into a people spot.

There are several other blog posts on parklets to give you an overview,  get you prepared for Park(ing) Day (temporary parklets) and see how parklets are done in other cities.  Take a look:

AARP also thinks parklets are a good idea and has come up with some basic tips on how to get started in building a parklet in your community.

Step 1

Determine your community's parklet rules as many now have an application process, often involving fees and requirements for detailed plans and drawings. The local department of transportation, public works or a similar office is typically the agency to contact.

Parklets are typically installed where narrow or congested sidewalks prevent the placement of traditional sidewalk cafés, or where local property owners or residents see a need to expand the seating capacity and public space on a given street.

The San Francisco Parklet Manual


A typical on-street parallel parking spot measures about 9 feet by 18 feet. A parklet might take up one or two of these spots. If the parking spot runs perpendicular or diagonal to the street and sidewalk, three spaces may be needed. The chosen location should provide or allow for a buffer between traffic and the parklet. Other characteristics of good locations include streets that already have some pedestrian and bicycling traffic and where the surface is flat or has only a minimal slope. Of course a parklet can’t block fire hydrants, driveways, bus stops, etc.



Parklets can remain in place for an entire season, several weeks or days, or even just a few hours.

Why and For Whom

Parklets are free public spaces that are available and accessible to all users.


Parklets are typically administered through partnerships with adjacent businesses and/or surrounding res­idents. Partners maintain the parklet, keeping it free of trash and debris. They also program the activities, if there are any. Where no local partners are present, a parklet might be installed and managed by the municipality, just as it would a traditional park or public space.

boat parklet


The price of creating a parklet can vary greatly depending on the materials and design. Designer Melissa Miklus of Alta Planning + Design and Baltimore-area fitness instructor Arielle Gordon each contributed their expertise. AARP's sample parklet was built from donated and discarded items, and it was assembled by volunteer labor. We used wooden pallets and reclaimed wood to create exercise stations, planters and our library. (Low-cost or free pallets can be found online or at local stores that receive large deliveries.)


The duration and location of the parket will influence the type of materials that need to be used. Depending on a community's requirements, if any, the floor of the parklet can be a raised platform or simply the street, either with bare pavement or covered with strips of sod or even indoor/outdoor carpeting. Aside from the main features (benches, tables, etc.), a parklet should have vertical elements that are clearly visible to nearby traffic and a border or enclosure that defines the space. (A tip: Parklet items should be heavy enough to make theft impossible or difficult.)


Like any public space, a parklet may require trash pickups, landscaping and repairs.


Aside from providing places for people to enjoy and gather, the presence of on-street parklets increases foot traffic for adjacent businesses. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO), after a parklet installation the Green Line Café in Philadelphia saw a 20 percent increase in revenue and the Mojo Café in San Francisco experienced a 30 percent increase.

A look at West Philadelphia's parklet. (Photos courtesy of Bridget Keegan Barber.)

Learn More

The following organizations and resources can provide more information about parklets and other community enhancement features.


Community Outreach Programs

Housing Opportunity Grant
Housing Opportunity Grants support state and local REALTOR® Associations’ affordable housing activities. The goal of the program is to position REALTORS® as leaders in improving their communities by creating affordable housing

Smart Growth Grant
Smart growth is an approach to development that encourages a mix of building types and uses, diverse housing and transportation options, development within existing neighborhoods, and community engagement. The Smart Growth Program offers state and local REALTOR® Associations to way to engage with government officials, community partners and the general public in planning and designing community’s future.

Planned diversity initiatives makes good business sense. REALTOR® Associations with well-planned diversity programs create a stronger sense of community, particularly in neighborhoods with high concentrations of foreign-born and minority residents who are moving up the socioeconomic ladder and are buying homes.

NAR Placemaking Resources

Placemaking Guide: A Guide to Transform a Public Space into a Community Place
REALTORS® and state and local association staff can learn the details of Placemaking, the kinds of projects placemaking entails, how to organize them, and where to go for assistance and resources.

Placemaking Webinar Series
Our Placemaking Webinar Series will provide more in depth information on the various types of Placemaking and how REALTORS® were involved in Placemaking activities in their communities.

Placemaking Grant
The Placemaking Grant funds the creation of new public spaces, like pocket parks, trails & gardens, in a community. The grant focuses on “lighter, cheaper, quicker” placemaking projects, which can be built under a year and cost less  than $200,000.

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Smart Growth

The healthier a community, the better the environment for REALTORS®. Keeping a community attractive, livable and functioning well is a complex task.