You’ve heard the term being thrown around, but what exactly is a parklet? Well according to the City of Minneapolis, “A parklet is a seasonal expansion of the existing sidewalk designed for the public to relax and enjoy the city.”
Parklets: Not just a buzzword
Initially conceived by London resident Suzi Bolognese, an Italian/Brazilian designer, and first installed in San Francisco in 2010, a parklet is basically an extension of the sidewalk intended for public use by pedestrians. Typically utilizing parking lane space in areas where sidewalks offer limited space for street-life activities.
Though some areas across the country allow private or semi-private parklets for businesses like restaurants to expand their seating and service area to in warmer months, currently in Minneapolis, parklets are all public shared spaces and as such businesses are not allowed to establish table service. This doesn’t preclude the public from buying their food to go and bringing outside to the parklet but it does not reserve it for this use.
Generally parklets can be seasonal or “permanent,” just as long as they can quickly be removed for snow clean up. Here in Minneapolis, they’re only approved for temporary seasonal use, deployed in the spring after street sweeping and removed in the fall before snow season starts.
Some of the amenities of parklets include:
Benches and other seating
Plantings and greenery
Public artwork
Bicycle parking

Who’s responsible?

In order to have a parklet in your neighborhood, you first need someone willing to take responsibility for it. This means businesses, individuals, or community organizations interested in enhancing the livability of their neighborhood and encouraging more community engagement through the use of parklets, need to first visit the city’s website.
The City of Minneapolis provides detailed guidelines for establishing a parklet available for download here and advises anyone interested in doing so, read them through before submitting an application for a permit to build their own parklet.
Eligible applicants may be, but are not limited to:
Neighborhood organizations
Ground-floor businesses owners
Fronting property owners
Non-profit and community based organizations
Special Service Districts
Others on a case-by-case basis
The City of Minneapolis outlines that parklets should:
Respond to the local surroundings and conditions
Respect accessibility and users of the street environment
Engage the community and generate interest in the public realm
Use durable quality materials
Anyone seeking to build a parklet must have the organizational capacity to conduct outreach with the community and provide daily maintenance, in addition to working closely with neighborhood organizations, other businesses, and residents of the area to ensure neighborhood concerns are heard. Designs must meet city requirements for ADA accessibility, safety, and unobstructed sightlines, as well as adequate drainage.
All costs and administration associated with the parklet are the responsibility of the permit applicant. This includes
Design, installation, and materials
Preliminary offsite assembly
Onsite installation
Parklet construction and installation overseen by an insured, certified contractor
Permit Fees including encroachment permit, lane use, and obstruction permits
Ongoing maintenance
Removal/storage and restoration of pavement in off-season
Where can I visit a parklet?
Want to check out these public advertisement free gathering spaces for a little while longer? Visit the 2015 parklets funded and maintained by the following businesses at these Minneapolis locations:
W 29th Street at Lyndale Ave S, hosted by Lime
3255 Bryant Ave S, hosted by Canteen & CARAG
2007 Emerson Ave N, hosted by Juxtaposition Arts
2422 Central Ave NE, hosted by Sen Yai Sen Lek
3016 Bloomington Ave S, hosted by Mercado Central
With fall just around the corner, you’ll need to hurry to experience them before they’re gone!