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by John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Small public sidewalk extensions knows as “Parklets” are gaining in popularity in Philadelphia.

Even though the Parklets take up two street parking spots in some neighborhoods where street parking is hard to come by at times, the majority of community members are supporting the project.

Either 51 percent of the business or 51 percent of the residences on the block sign a petition saying “yes” we approve of having a Parklet here.

Overseeing the program is Ariel Ben-Amos, the Senior Planner and Analyst for the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities.

“Business owners benefit,” said Ben-Amos.  “We seen business jump anywhere from 15 to 40 percent for businesses with Parklets in front of them.  Communities benefit because they now have more open space in which to gather, and the city benefits because it means more people are walking and the neighborhoods are more vibrant.”

The latest Parklet is in the 4300 block of Main Street in Manayunk. The seasonal structure is outside Volo coffee house, where Akos Razz is the owner.

“I think it’s going to benefit me a lot I mean my customers are using it, on the weekends especially, a lot of our cyclist are just coming through here,” said Razz.  “Sometimes we’ll have about 50 cyclists out front. It’s just instant expanded seating for my business.”

The Parklets debuted in West Philadelphia in the Summer of 2011. There are about a half a dozen Parklets in various parts of the city with a goal of a dozen by the end of this summer.

Next one is scheduled to be built this coming Saturday at 10th and Cherry Streets in Chinatown.

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