The Beltline Business Improvement Area (BIA) looking to spice up 10 Avenue SW by bringing in unique outdoor spaces.
The BIA wants to boost patio space in the area by creating box parklets in the parking lanes outside Beltline establishments. Box parklets are portable dining spaces built using recycled shipping containers.
The proposed parklets will have concrete barricades creating a shield to traffic and allowing for open spaces to park bikes and scooters. It can also be used for other activities.
Beltline BIA executive director Adrian Urlacher became interested in this project when the pandemic started. At that time, the city used adaptive roadways to create outdoor spaces for bars to use. It sectioned those areas using pylons and barriers.
This was to help bars and restaurants limit the spread of COVID-19 by creating outdoor spaces for them.
“The problem was they weren’t all that attractive and they weren’t all that practical when it comes to what other markets do,” said Urlacher.
What would San Francisco do?
The city’s solution wasn’t a permanent one, so the Beltline BIA began looking to other cities for inspiration.
“Vancouver, Toronto, San Francisco, New York… these parklets are being used almost everywhere,” said Urlacher.
There are also a handful of locations where shipping containers are used in Calgary, but not in this way, said Urlacher.
The vision was for businesses to have better opportunities to thrive, especially during the pandemic.
“I think it’s going to draw people. It’s going to have a great atmosphere,” said Urlacher.
“We’re taking over all of 10th.”
Urlacher said that Beltline BIA is in this for the long term. And Urlacher plans to go further. They want to get things like ping pong tables to put in between the patios. And, they’ll figure out how to keep them open year-round.
“These are going to be fully multi seasonal use,” said Urlacher.
They want to come up with a way to use these containers during the winter. They will also reach out to artists to liven up the outside of these boxes.
Businesses are buzzing about the idea
Brandon Strauss from the National on 10th, is pretty excited about the project.
“It deactivates one laneway, and then the other side is used for an expanded patio, which we could really use,” said Strauss.
“The City of Calgary had the street side idea last year and we’re looking to just expand that.”
Strauss notes that the planters are going to help make the area look a little more like Stephen Avenue.
“It’s a good look for what we’re looking for, to turn 10th into more of a destination,” said Strauss.
Other businesses involved include Rodney’s Oyster House, Craft Beer Market and Briggs Kitchen + Bar.
Urlacher is aiming to have them set up by July 1 but they may be able to get them out earlier.
“We just found out today that we’ll have these here by mid-May. So, if we can get them flipped around with some artistic styling, we hope to have them out by mid-June,” said Urlacher.
The containers are being provided by Box Parklets, who partnered with the Beltline BIA.