Hewn Bakery to pilot Evanston’s first parklet

Hayley Glatter, Reporter

Evanston’s first parklet, an outdoor community space taking the place of a parking spot, will open in early July outside Hewn Bakery, 810 Dempster St.

The parklet will include heating, planters with native species and large tree stumps that can double as seats or tables, Hewn Bakery co-owner Ellen King said. She said converting the parking spot into a parklet is a far better use of the space.

“There’s no place currently to sit on Dempster on the west side of the tracks, so I think it easily creates an outdoor seating area and a green space,” King said. “I think it’s utilizing the parking space in many more ways than just for parking one car with just one driver. With the parklet, this one space can be utilized by 10 to 12 people.”

The parklet is a joint initiative piloted by Hewn Bakery and Evanston, but the project did not receive any funding from the city. Instead, 85 percent of the costs were raised through a Kickstarter campaign, and the bakery covered the remaining 15 percent, King said. The fundraising deadline was initially set for June 25, but the Kickstarter campaign collected more than the $14,000 needed five days early.

“You know, it’s not something that we own or that’s exclusive to Hewn, and anyone can use it in the community to sit on, so we thought it was best to have the community contribute,” King said. “We knew that if we weren’t successful in raising the funds, then there wasn’t community demand for the parklet.”

The success of the campaign highlights the willingness of the Evanston community to support projects like this, said Catherine Hurley, the city’s sustainable programs coordinator.

In addition to building community, the parklet will also further Evanston’s commitment to sustainability. Hurley said the parklet will provide an opportunity for shoppers to relax while running their errands, hopefully rejuvenating them so they can accomplish more in one trip.

“One of the objectives is to encourage people to use their multimodal transportation options like walking, biking and public transit to do errands and get around town,” Hurley said. “[The parklet] provides a place for resting, for eating, for reading, sort of a mini oasis … [that] would allow people to combine multiple shopping and errand trips into one.”

Additionally, Hurley said the parklet will encourage shoppers to buy locally and support the Evanston economy. Ultimately, she said she hopes the parklet will provide a link between commerce, community and environmentalism.

“Evanston is blessed to have many parks and also many wonderful business districts and neighborhood commercial areas,” Hurley said. “But often, outdoor places to meet with neighbors and sit and have a cup of coffee and sit to read the newspaper aren’t as conveniently located as where we purchase goods and services … in a built environment like Evanston, we’re always looking for creative ways for people to enjoy outdoor space.”

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