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Enjoy Magazine

Experiencing Pop-Ups and Parklets in Downtown Redding

08/21/2015 08:45AM ● By Carrie Schmeck

Curb Appeal

September 2015
By Carrie Schmeck
Photos: Jefferson Thomas

Move over Portlandia. Step aside, Seattle. Redding is about to adopt some urban vibe. For three days in September, a trio of coordinators and a host of believers will transform and showcase a few tiny downtown spaces in hopes of making big marks on the urban scene.

While not new across the nation, the concept behind the Market Hall Parklet and Pop-Up
Event, to be held Sept. 17-19 at the south end of Cascade Square on California Street, will be new to most area residents. At the event’s core are pop-ups and parklets.

Pop-ups won’t mean a farmers market-esque sea of lean-to tents and colorful crafts, though.
This is an elevated version, featuring a collection of intentional vendors who will collectively create a bistro-like culinary experience. Surrounded by local art and serving up early morning coffee and croissants, midday paninis and evening cheeses and wine, this pop-up rendition invites all walks to chill and dine in and around its partner parklet.

The term parklet infers a mini-park, which it is, kind of. But not quite. Like a park, it is public
space, but its genesis comes from the clever use of parking spaces. San Francisco gets credit for introducing the first parklet in 2005, which launched what is now a worldwide annual event called PARK(ing) Day, held the third Friday in September.

Parklets are no asphalt-and-card-table affairs. They are cleverly designed spaces that include flooring to extend the sidewalk and then an array of imaginative configurations that can include seating, bike parking, play areas, greenery, lighting, and often, shade. They can be austere, whimsical or posh, but the primary goal is that they are inviting.

Local architect Ryan Russell of Ryan Russell Studio and Ben Fromgen, a San Francisco architect from bcooperative, will plot a master design for Redding’s three-day parklet, which will span two parallel parking spaces. Fromgen brings parklet experience while Russell hopes to establish his stamp as an architect who influences the value of his hometown. “Good public design plays such an important role in the process of connecting the people, businesses, and culture of an area,” says Russell. Already known for his more permanent parklet-like work in front of Coffee Bar on Pine Street, he relishes the opportunity to design for area enhancement and community interaction. “Parklets are a simple but very effective means for doing this.”

But how does a three-day pop-up and parklet event do more than bring out the curious for temporary entertainment? Can this idea spark something bigger?

Redding City Councilwoman Kristen Schreder says yes. “Events like this open people’s eyes to what the downtown is and can be.”

“This can be a ‘what-if ’ experience,” says James Mazzotta, new business development manager for Enjoy, Inc. “What if we had more of these? This event lets us draw upon a successful urban model and gives us permission to think outside the box. We’d love to build one of these permanently in front of our Enjoy the Store to extend our customers’ experience and create a cool space.”

Dale Woods, property manager for Cascade Square and cocoordinator of the event, says it won’t change anything unless people experience it. If people come and hang out, try the food, and see what a parklet feels like and how it changes their perspective, then the community can collectively decide if this is a direction it wants to pursue more permanently. “We know the economy has improved. Merchants are reporting upticks in both sales and foot traffic. This will celebrate what many know is good and paint a vision for even more vibrant, postrecession downtown attractions.”

Anne Thomas, another event coordinator and executive director of Shasta Living Streets, says making cool and accessible public spaces like this highlights the downtown’s usability and cements the connection between walking, biking, and economic vitality. “These pieces of
positive transformation are interconnected. If successful, they lead to more conversation, awareness, and hopefully, improvements that everyone wants.”

Pop-ups and parklets aren’t exactly “if you build it they will come,” but more like, “If you do it, they will know.” So the coordinators will pop up their popups and hope the community pops over to discover this Northern California downtown vibe.

CALL (530) 246-4687 EXT. 4