“An empty parking lot doesn’t have to be an empty parking lot forever. It can really be transformed into something amazing. And it doesn’t take that much money, it doesn’t take a lot of time, it just takes people who are willing to participate and really want to make a difference.”
—David Loewenstein, the chief operating officer of RAD Lab.
A “tactical urbanism” project is underway in San Diego’s East Village, where commercial real estate company HP Investors is lending a vacant lot to the Downtown Partnership. The nonprofit, working with the design firm RAD Lab, decided to ask for the public’s input on what should go in the lot. So they put up a sign in front of the lot asking people to write down ideas for what they want to see in the space.
One of the most popular ideas was a children’s playground and family park. Sifting through the suggestions, it seems the lot will likely be transformed into some kind of urban park.
Sumeet Parekh, HP Investors’ principal and the property’s owner, is loaning the space for free and will pay for all of the costs of the makeover. He said he’s doing it because he owns some of the surrounding buildings and wants to add value to the neighborhood.
"Small things like this can have a really transformative effect on the neighborhood, and we want to invest back in the neighborhoods that we invest in," he said.