Charleston City leaders discussing future of “parklet” outdoor dining spots

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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – The future of a pandemic-era outdoor dining option is under discussion in Charleston.

Parklets are small sections of a street blocked off for the purpose of outdoor dining. Charleston City leaders rolled out a parklet pilot program back 2020 to help business amid the pandemic. Since the rollout, two Charleston businesses adopted the method of dining, Cutty’s and Babas on Cannon.

On Monday, the City’s Traffic and Transportation Committee discussed what the parklets could look like in the future. Councilman Mike Seekings said he wanted to discuss giving the parklets a more permanent role in the city.

“The whole idea, especially in this day and age, is the more people who can spend time outdoors, the better,” said Seekings. “It’s better, it’s healthier, it certainly gives certain areas of the city more vitality and people want it.”

While the parklets have received a lot of support, some people are concerned about their appearance and the fact they takeaway parking spots.

During the meeting, Mayor John Tecklenburg said he hopes to see some guidelines put in place for parklets on city-owned streets, such as charging businesses a fee and requiring support from neighbors.

In the meantime, he said both businesses have been asked to remove their parklets. The future of Babas’ parklet remains unclear because it is located on a state-owned street.

Mayor Tecklenburg said the Department of Transportation is against the parklets. Seekings asked his colleagues to consider looking into the process of taking back state streets.

As of Monday, Cutty’s still had a parklet outside, a feature the owner said has been good for business.

“It’s been really good for the tips for the bartenders. It’s been really good for the corner, it’s made the corner a little more lively,” said Ben D’Allesandro.

No final decisions were made in the meeting, the discussion will continue.

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