City Fabrick’s Brian Ulaszewski addressing guests at Park[d] Plaza’s grand opening. Photo by Greggory Moore.
It’s not an original or even a startlingly creative concept. But that’s part of the point. Long Beach has a new public plaza—and can have many more—because a few people said, “Why don’t we do that here?”
One of those people was Brian Ulaszewski, founder of nonprofit design studio City Fabrick (and a writer on urban planning for the Post), who partnered with the City of Long Beach and others to develop Park[d] Plaza, a 2,250-square-foot public space overlain onto part of a parking lot in the East Village Arts District.
The genesis of Park[d] Plaza began with Park[ing] Day, an annual San Francisco-started event that intends to “shed light on how much space is used to park cars and how little is being used for people.” Long Beach has picked up the tradition, and last year City Fabrick did a Park[ing] Day installation that worked so well that the nonprofit design studio looked into doing something more permanent. A few community partnerships, $6,000, and 30 gallons of yellow paint later, and what once was a run-of-the-mill parking lot across the street from the Fingerprints/Berlin building is now a plaza with chairs and umbrellas.
And just to show what happens when space is maximally utilized, that same parking lot now has one more space than it had previously.
“This is really not that hard to do,” Ulaszewski says. “We want the community to see the opportunities in their respective neighborhoods so they can do similar things. […] This is meant be something anyone the in community can do.”
A food truck was present Monday’s grand opening, and the plan is to have a food truck on site each afternoon. (Check City Fabrick’s Facebook page for updates.) Additionally, Ulaszewski envisions the possibility of additional possibilities for further activating the plaza, from event programming to installing a shipping container to house a pop-up shop or art gallery.
Vice-mayor Robert Garcia calls Park[d] Plaza “a great example of urbanism at its best” and promises more such transformations on the way.
“I’ve asked Brian to start looking around for more of these opportunities,” Garcia says. “So we’re going to have more. People are going to come by and see this and say, ‘Why shouldn’t we do this in other places?'”
Park[d] Plaza is located on 4th Street between Elm and Linden Avenues.
Click here to view our policies covering Robert Garcia and the Long Beach city council.