PARK SLOPE – Residents and workers along 7th Avenue have a new outdoor spot to sit and relax. A Street Seats station debuted in front of Pokéworks at 258 7th Avenue on Monday.
Back in February, Community Board 6 approved Pokéworks’ application to participate in the NYC Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Street Seats program. Launched in 2015, the program partners DOT with local business owners to “transform underused streets into vibrant, social public spaces” from March through December. The small seating stations are installed in the roadbed along the curb line or on wide sidewalks.
The partnering business designs its seating area, which must meet DOT requirements, and is responsible for maintaining it throughout the season. Street Seats are open to the public and users are not required to patronize the sponsoring business. There were 16 Street Seats installations throughout NYC in 2018, with 8 in Brooklyn, and DOT plans to expand to 25 locations this year. Street Seats prohibit alcohol, smoking, and commercial activity (e.g., waiter service).
The owners of Pokéworks, Oleg Rud and Michael Pennartz, told Bklyner that they decided to participate in the Street Seats program to “beautify the community and offer a relaxing environment to share with our neighbors and customers.”
Located on 7th Avenue between 5th and 6th Streets, their Street Seats station features a “simple and elegant” DOT-approved design created by students of Parsons School of Design. Along with three café tables and six chairs, the installation includes unfinished wood that “matches with our interior woodwork and the natural, clean feeling of the restaurant,” Pennartz said.
“As soon as the flowers were put in we’ve received many compliments from passersby, many of who stop to send pictures of the beautiful seating to their friends,” Pennartz added. “Already customers, local school children, neighbors and hospital workers have started using them.”
Two employees from nearby NY-P Brooklyn Methodist Hospital were enjoying the seating Wednesday afternoon when Bklyner stopped by. While they are regular customers of Pokéworks, today they ordered lunch from another local business and dined outdoors at one of the Street Seats tables.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Amanda Markow, “especially since there is limited outdoor seating in Park Slope.” She and her colleague Lou Valladares were not previously aware of the Street Seats Program and wondered how the seating area could be placed in the street. “If it’s okay with DOT, it’s a good idea,” Valladares said, noting that he did not have a problem with the seats taking over one metered parking space.
At the February CB6 meeting, several board members voiced concerns about the loss of a parking spot for people traveling to Methodist while some said they found sitting along the busy roadway unsafe. A Street Seats station installed almost two years ago in front of SkyIce (63 5th Ave) has proven very popular.
“It’s only one spot and the hospital across the street is putting in a large parking lot as we speak, which will help the situation tremendously,” Pennartz said in response to those upset over the loss of the parking space. Methodist Hospital is building a garage that will offer approximately 900 spaces as well as a pick-up and drop-off zone.
While Markow noted that the platform that the tables and chairs were on didn’t feel completely level, she added that she will continue to use the 7th Avenue Street Seats whenever the weather allows.