Eyes on the Street: Chicago’s Newest – And Nicest? – People Spot
Chicago’s “People Spot” mini-parks (known as “parklets” in other cities) help make retail strips more vibrant by repurposing asphalt for motor vehicles, such as parking spaces and loading zones, to create space for people to eat, drink, work, and relax. And they seem to provide a shot in the arm for local commerce – a 2014 Metropolitan Planning Council study found that 80 percent of nearby merchants felt that the presence of a People Spot brought them more foot traffic and customers.
So Chicago’s newest parklet in front of Intelligentsia Coffee, 2642 North Milwaukee, and adjacent to the Logan Theater, is a great addition to the neighborhood. It was brainstormed by the local architecture firm Moss Design, which also created an Andersonville People Spot that was made of wood salvaged by the Rebuilding Exchange.
There’s a lot to like about the new Logan parklet, an angular design with an aluminum frame and cedar decking, which was fabricated by Standard & Custom. While it provides extra café seating for customers at the compact coffee shop via red metal tables and chairs, anyone can use the space. There’s a desk-like space that’s ideal for laptopping (as you can see from these photos), plus additional wooden bench-like seating.
The zig-zag profile of the aluminum wall that faces the street allows People Spot users and road users to see each other. Planters full of native grasses help soften the jagged space. And metal support struts at the north end of the parklet double as bike parking. The space already seems to be a hit with the afternoon café crowd, and it will be an ideal place to kill time before a flick at the theater on beautiful summer nights.
This People Spot replaced a couple of metered parking spaces so, as required by the city’s despised parking contract, the concessionaire is being compensated with new metered spots elsewhere in the 35th Ward, according to Chicago Department of Transportation spokesman Mike Claffey.
Claffey added that CDOT does not have a final list of locations for 2017 as they are still going through the approval process for some locations. But the following other the People Spots permitted to date:
- 4034 N. Milwaukee Ave. in Portage Park
- 2860 N. Clark St. in Lakeview East
- 2942 N. Clark St. Lakeview East
Hopefully more parklets will be approved soon, so more communities can reap the benefits of swapping blacktop for hangout space.