Missouri Main Street Connection Inc. (MMSC) in partnership with AARP Missouri, is excited to announce the completion of the Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization (UJRO) project “Roaming Parklet” from the AARP Community Resiliency grant. AARP Missouri invested in projects that inspire change and improve communities for all ages. UJRO, a Main Street program, was awarded $5,000 to make their resiliency project a reality, “The grant represented an outstanding opportunity for the rotation of a Roaming Parklet to park at all Uptown businesses,” said Janna Clifton. It is important for communities to activate spaces in new ways to meet the changing business climate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This grant was specifically designed to be implemented for the betterment of a uptown area by including community input and implementation while celebrating and encouraging inclusivity.
Debuting during the 2021 Christmas Parade, this ‘Roaming Parklet’ was unveiled to the community after months of dedicated volunteer work and coordination by UJRO with vendors and suppliers to complete their project. Developed off the grant winning rendering from Craig Milde, Design Committee chair and architect with Design + Advise, UJRO built a custom “Roaming Parklet’ from a tiny home frame that is lower to the street surface to allow fewer steps to climb and a shorter accessibility ramp. Furnishings including seating, bar top tables, and umbrella coverings when necessary to allow the ‘Roaming Parklet’ to be configured in different set ups according to the need of the business or special event. COVID-19 has made ordering tricky over the past year leading to several delays; however, UJRO has continued to press on with the project and wait until all the pieces were ready for the project’s completion.
Activating streets has been vital in many communities across America as changing business requirements during the pandemic required more space for shoppers and diners. To address these requirements, many communities allowed restaurants and businesses to expand into the streets, utilizing would-be parking spaces as new shared spaces that served as extensions of their businesses to form parklets and outdoor seating. This is great for communities that have the infrastructure to allow for these measures to not impede or restrict streets and sidewalk spaces in facilitating drivers and foot traffic. For the Uptown Jackson area, this presented its own challenges as community and merchant concerns grew about the idea of permanent parklets. Therefore, the answer was this ‘Roaming Parklet’ that would rotate and park at all Uptown businesses allowing them shared access to this self-contained, mobile “parklet” providing the same amenities for each use at each business driving publicity and foot traffic. Not only will this ‘Roaming Parklet’ be utilized for special event space and pop-up markets, it also is planned to expand existing businesses’ storefronts and retail space for years to come.
This is a big win for the Uptown district and businesses as this will allow UJRO to inspire further revitalization and activation through the ‘Roaming Parklet’ by testing areas in the district for further enhancement and aligning UJRO’s anticipated comprehensive landscape plan in lieu of the routine builds and removal of semi-permanent parklets.
A final thank you from Missouri Main Street Connection and Uptown Jackson Revitalization Organization to all the volunteers who put their time, effort, and expertise into completing this outstanding project and who will continue to volunteer through the usage of this community amenity to support the district’s businesses and provide a shared public space for visitors. Special thanks also goes out to UJRO Board President Terry Tushhoff and Executive Director Janna Clifton for the coordination of this project.