As businesses work to safely reopen their doors, a Dallas based initiative founded to make communities more pedestrian-friendly is doing what it can to help.
Along the main drag through Bishop Arts, a street usually reserved for parallel parking has been transformed.
Outside of Reveler’s Hall, a wooden deck lined with flower boxes takes the place of a single car’s spot to expand its opportunity for sidewalk seating.
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“I would say we see 80% of people outside and 20% inside, which is exactly what we want to be. So, it’s been a lifeline,” said owner Jason Roberts.
Roberts said that parklet concept, which was just recently approved for temporary use in the city of Dallas, is a concept that dates back years in other cities.
It’s also the kind of project he’s helped launch numerous times over the last 10 years through his non-profit Better Block.
It’s work creating more pedestrian-friendly communities through placemaking, implementing design and street furniture, has been used in cities all over the country and inspired work all over the world.
But in Dallas, where Better Block was founded, the reliance on cars has created resistance.
Though Roberts has seen that change in the wake of COVID-19.
“We know that outdoor spaces are safer places to be right now. We know that the virus itself has a shorter life span when you’re outdoors,” said Roberts.
He believes pop-up market stalls recently purchased by Bishop Arts’ landlord for use by its tenants, bars on wheels, and picnic tables protected by rolling planters will not only bring business to the street to prevent the spread of germs but also provide a much-needed boost for sales tax revenue.
“They act as little incubators for economic development all around it where we may see a loss somewhere else,” said Roberts.
He’s even fast-tracked the launch of Place Fab, a business to create the place-making furniture Better Block uses in its work.
He said they’ve taken orders from several major cities where he believes street furniture can make a difference long after the pandemic comes to an end.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.