As part of a wave of recent changes to Flowery Branch, the South Hall city has added a “parklet” on Main Street for outside dining and relaxing.
The deck-like sidewalk extension occupies two parking spaces near Common Grounds coffee shop. Made of treated lumber and lattice work, it features — for now — three bistro tables and flowers in four wooden containers.
“We thought it was a low-cost way to create attractive and useful public space to encourage folks to sit a spell and to relax and enjoy Main Street Flowery Branch,” City Clerk Melissa McCain said.
Public Works Department employees built the structure “while they had down time during rainy weather,” she said.
The cost for materials was $850, funded by the public works budget.
“I think Main Street is so unique, we have the look that everyone is going for,” said Matt Miller of Matthew’s & Co. Salon in Flowery Branch, while stopping in at Common Grounds. “Everybody is trying to make everything rustic and industrial … and I just think this has been such a special place.
“To have an area where people can have a place to hang out on Main Street, I think that’s just awesome — build the culture.”
Another Common Grounds customer, Nick Nichols of Nichols Body Shop in Flowery Branch, said, “Everything they’re doing here is great. People want a small-town feel, so the more they do along these lines is great.”
The South Hall city’s downtown has been changing lately, both in look and policy.
Flowery Branch City Council voted earlier this year to allow the carrying of alcoholic beverages in open containers within a designated dining district.
The area encompasses the downtown business district and where the new City Hall and Pine Street extension recently opened off Railroad Avenue.
“It also sets an area where there can be bars and taverns — establishments that don’t have a food requirement,” City Attorney Ron Bennett has said.
The parklet “is an innovative way to build public gathering spaces right in the heart of the urban streetscape,” the city said in its announcement of the new amenity.
“Businesses and organizations with limited sidewalk space now have the unique ability to extend their atmosphere and aesthetic to the outdoors.”
In June 2017, the city of Gainesville introduced a parklet to its downtown square. The parklet rotates among locations on the square.
Flowery Branch’s parklet won’t be mobile, McCain said.
“It is configured to fit onto the north side of Main Street due to the angled parking,” she said.
“We thought putting the structure in front of the closed City Administration/Planning Building would make sense because no one is parking to use that building.”
The city isn’t planning to add another parklet at this time, but “we are going to put umbrellas up, add a fourth (table) setting and add some lighting so folks can use it in the evening also,” McCain said.