Economic Development, Food Service & Agriculture, and Retail

Bar group opens 'parklets'

August 5, 2014
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Bar group opens 'parklets'
A rendering of the parket for outdoor seating at Stella’s Lounge in downtown Grand Rapids. Courtesy BarFly Ventures

A bar group is planning to unveil three “parklets” downtown this week.

"Street patios"

The parklets, a seasonal widening of the sidewalk for organizations to re-purpose, will be unveiled as sections of outdoor seating alongside three popular Grand Rapids bars.

The three parklets, which are each about 320 square feet, are located outside of Grand Rapids Brewing Co., at 1 Ionia Ave. SW, McFadden’s Restaurant and Saloon, at 58 Ionia Ave. SW, and Stella’s Lounge, at 53 Commerce Ave. SW.

The parklets seat about 20 and include tables, chairs and umbrellas.

The parklets were designed and built by BarFly Ventures, which owns the bars, and are part of a program supported by the Downtown Development Authority and Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., or DGRI.

The parklets will be taken down from November to April.

“We’re thrilled to be able to give our customers an incredible new way to experience downtown,” said Mark Sellers, founder, BarFly Ventures. “We think these outdoor 'street patios' will be the hottest seats in town on pleasant summer and fall nights.”

The parklets are designed to create more energy in downtown’s entertainment industry by transforming on-street parking into patio spaces.

“Parklets help emphasize the importance of spaces for people in creating a vibrant public realm,” said Kristopher Larson, president and CEO, DGRI.

Larson added that DGRI looks forward to “what innovative parklet concepts other businesses and organizations might pursue.”

Funding

The cost of the project was split between BarFly and DGRI, said Tim Kelly, planning manager, DGRI.

“Each parklet is estimated to cost $26,568,” according to a Downtown Development Authority planning memo. “Up to 50 percent of the costs are eligible for reimbursement. The total amount being requested for the grant is $39,852, or $13,284 for each installation.”

More parklets

The three parklets could be the first of many in the city.

Kelly said other businesses have expressed interest in developing parklets, and he’s expecting more parklet applications soon.

“We’ve had interest from a lot of places,” Kelly said. “Once these are up and installed, people will see how they operate, and hopefully, it will spur more interest.

“We’re excited to see these things in action. We spent the last year working with the city to get these things in place.”

Update

The opening of the BarFly parklets, initially scheduled for tomorrow, has been delayed due to a state permit issue, said Nick Butterfield, a spokesperson for BarFly.

Butterfield said BarFly is confident that the approval will come through and hopes the parklets can be opened by the end of the week.

Although construction is completed and all the city permits have been approved, BarFly is still waiting on approval from the state on serving in “public areas."

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