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Gainesville brings parklet to downtown square
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Women sit on a mobile "parklet" Friday on the square in Gainesville. The newly unveiled mobile parklet is the first in the state and will be moved around the square. - photo by David Barnes

The married couple liked what they saw as they sized up the platform extending from the sidewalk outside their craft beer establishment on the Gainesville square.

Gainesville city officials introduced the structure — called a parklet — with a ribbon-cutting Friday outside Downtown Drafts, which is owned and operated by Aimee and Nick Hoecker.

Built in sections from mostly salvaged and repurposed wood, the platform features wooden benches on the corners, chairs and counter where food and drinks can be placed. The non-smoking public seating area also has built in planters.

“The city keeps doing things that benefits businesses around here,” Aimee Hoecker said. “We’re very excited.”

The couple are into their third year at the location, 115 Bradford St.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” Nick Hoecker said.

The idea for the parklet was hatched a few years ago when the city commissioned its Downtown Gainesville Renaissance and Vision Plan undertaken by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

Chris McDowell, the materials reuse coordinator at UGA, designed and built the structure in six sections so that it could be moved to different areas around the square, city officials said.

“We’re very excited about this,” said Regina Dyer, who was recently named manager of the Gainesville Convention and Visitors Bureau after a stint as the city’s Main Street manager. “It’s an extension of our sidewalk… a great place to sit, have a bite to eat or watch a concert.”

City Manager Bryan Lackey said the parklet will spend a few weeks on Bradford Street and then rotate to other locations on the square.

“We think this is the first mobile parklet in the state of Georgia,” Lackey said. “We’re very excited that another piece of our downtown master plan that we’re implementing.”

Community Development Director Rusty Ligon called the parklet a great downtown amenity.

“I think it will be heavily utilized,” Ligon said.

Councilwoman Barbara Brooks used giant-sized scissors provided by Catiel Felts — the city’s tourism and communications director, to cut the ribbon and officially open the parklet for use.

“It’s a really good thing to have a new venue, something that brings flavor and excitement to the square,” Brooks said.

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