New ‘Parklets’ Provide Space To Eat, Play
Standing in front of the recently installed parklets on Coral Street is akin to looking at a piece of art. There’s a moment you instinctively take to soak it all in before allowing yourself to feel anything.
Once that moment, however brief, is over, its clean lines and modern design are instantly attractive. Lanterns lining the open raft ceiling and planter boxes add a whimsical feel to an already charming spot. And in one parklet sits a stationary bike, free for the public to use — depicting its interactive intent.
There’s just something really fun about this new introduction to the neighborhood.
“Public opinion is that they are cool,” says Hank Adaniya, owner of Hank’s Haute Dogs.
Built as extensions over the existing curb, parklets have become burgeoning fixtures in metropolis areas like San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia.
The unveiling of the area’s first two parklets took place a couple of weeks ago, and are located directly in front of Hank’s store-front. Since then, Adaniya says he already has seen increased foot traffic to his restaurant.
“Some people are coming out because they want to see the parklet — that’s how much gravity it has right now,” he says.
“I think it’s a unique idea, especially for Kakaako. It’s a cool thing to have here.”
It isn’t just a way to boost business in the area, though. With these public open spaces, Kamehameha School’s Our Kakaako project hopes to enliven the community.
“This was a way of bringing more activity to street level and actually making the communities in the cities more pedestrian-friendly, more walkable,” explains Kekoa Paulsen, community relations and communications director for Kamehameha Schools.
“It ties in very closely with one of the things we’re trying to achieve through Our Kakaako and the master plan,” he adds, before elaborating that the ultimate goal is to get people out of their cars and onto the streets.
It took nearly two years to complete both parklets —†one themed “eat” and the other “play.” Both utilized repurposed materials from the area. Cage planters, for instance, contain rubble from a previous Pow!Wow! mural. All of this represents Kamehameha Schools’ desire to reuse materials when it can.
“It was actually very cool to be able to bring some of the pieces from the structures that are being taken down now to make way for the parking structure,” says Paulsen.
Working with INK Architects, Sunworks Construction and PLS Builders, Our Kakaako also received support from the city.
“We couldn’t have done anything without support and interest and active involvement from the mayor on down,” says Paulsen. “This is a new thing for Honolulu, so it would have been easy for them to shut it down, and they were open-minded and really helped to facilitate, bring this to reality.”
Though still too early to tell, future parklet additions are a possibility.
For more information on the parklets, visit ourkakaako.com.