Building a better block
Thursday, April 12, 2018
There’s an empty lot in the 1100 block of Central Avenue that’s been sitting unused for years.
Once the site of a bar, the building was razed after a fire heavily damaged the structure.
Wednesday night, the empty lot became something else entirely
A group of volunteers — using pallets, plywood, potted plants, strings of lights and a lot of elbow grease — turned it into a great space to have a party complete with seating, a bar and stage, and even lots of art.
It was a demonstration of the principles promoted by the Better Block Foundation, an urban design nonprofit based in Dallas, Texas.
Patrick Blaydes, an urban planner with the group, kicked in some sweat equity and talked about the concept.
“It’s creating a sense of place where there was no sense of place before,” he said. “It doesn’t take a lot of money to do this, just people getting together.”
The temporary construction was intended to give those attending a very real physical sense of what can be done with an urban space such as an empty unused lot.
“It shows what it could be,” he said. “People can ask themselves, do we like this? Does it feel good?”
One of the basic principles of the Better Block Foundation is that small projects, like turning an empty lot into a place where people can gather for entertainment can pay big dividends.