A few blocks north of the spot where Southwest 4th Avenue becomes Barbur Boulevard, a five-lane city street has been slowly becoming a place for people to enjoy. A team of Portland State University students is pushing this spot to its next step.
If it comes together — the current step is a crowdfunding campaign that would raise $15,350 for construction and the first two years of maintenance — it’d be one of the first fully public Street Seats installation in the city.
Since Street Seats was introduced in 2012 after several years of advocacy by Rebecca Hamilton and others, about a dozen private shops have gotten city permits to convert car parking spaces in front of their storefronts to public seating.
The “SoMa” (South of Market) neighborhood has a line of top-notch food carts across the street from several office buildings for the university and other institutions. As described in the video above, the “SoMa Parklet Project” would give food cart patrons somewhere to sit.
But unlike some Street Seats, the idea is to make the parklets feel truly public — a place where “anyone can sit down and read a newspaper,” as city program specialist Sarah Figliozzi told the Portland Tribune last year.
Creating that feeling requires more than just park benches. Here’s the project’s budget, including two “extra” features if the effort can raise more than the minimum.
“Most people think of this district as a place to pass through,” B.D. Wortham-Galvin, a professor in PSU’s architecture school whose course “Contingent Urbanism” helped inform this project, told the Tribune. “We want it to be a place to stay.”
Correction 1/6: An earlier post incorrectly said this would be the first fully public parklet. It would be the third; the others are on Alberta Street in front of the Tin Shed and Vita cafes.