Colorado Boulevard has become a more people-friendly boulevard over the years, in part due to the guidance of the Colorado Boulevard Specific Plan, which largely prohibits the addition of auto-oriented businesses and requires new businesses and developments be more pedestrian-oriented. One of the many properties which has been transformed thanks to the Specific Plan is the current site of The Oinkster, a local favorite that draws customers from all over the County.
Before it was The Oinkster, the building was home to a fast food joint named “Jim’s Burger.” Although Jim’s occupied the same building that The Oinkster does, it was less pedestrian friendly as it had a drive-through, little landscaping, and a modest outdoor patio fronting Colorado Boulevard.
Due to provisions in the Specific Plan, when The Oinkster opened it no longer had a drive-through, and it increased the amount of greenery on the property. The existing outdoor patio was made more pleasant for those dining, in part because of the added greenery and lack of drive-through with idling cars, but also because the new property owners also took it upon themselves to make an inviting space for customers to enjoy outdoors.
By all accounts, The Oinkster is much more pleasant to walk by than Jim’s was– there is more landscaping and less asphalt, one no longer needs to dodge cars lined up for a drive-through, and the patio is more lively than ever which adds “eyes on the street” and allows for more people watching. The pedestrian-friendly nature of The Oinkster however is limited by the two large surface parking lots that sandwich the main building. Not only are surface parking lots inherently unfriendly to pedestrians, one cannot even enter the restaurant without navigating its parking lot.
Although The Oinkster cannot nor should not completely eliminate its parking, there is one way the parking lot’s presence can be softened while vastly improving the pedestrian experience walking past and to the restaurant. Adding a “frontage” patio (one possibility is depicted below) to the parking lot immediately adjacent to Shearin Avenue could mask the existing parking and provide a number of benefits if designed properly.
What the frontage patio does is place a people-oriented space immediately against the sidewalk and hides the necessary though often unsightly surface parking. The rendering shown above does require the removal of 3 parking spaces but arguably creates more benefits.
What are these benefits, you ask? Well the benefits of a frontage patio could include:
- Added greenery which provides additional shade for customers and reduces water run-off.
- More outdoor seating (the outdoor seating at The Oinkster is almost always more desirable than the indoor seating, often completely full during peak business hours)
- Secure and convenient bicycle parking to promote customers and employees alike to bicycle to The Oinkster knowing there will be a safe spot to lock up on the property. Not only that, but if effective, having additional customers and employees arrive by bicycle relieves demand for scarce on-street parking.
- Improved pedestrian and ADA access to the business
- A more aesthetically pleasing exterior that will draw additional attention and exposure to the business.
- Improved bicycle and pedestrian safety by removing direct access to the eastern parking from Colorado Blvd. This removes a conflict point and creates more reliable movements in and out of the parking lot.
- An additional public curbside parking space can be created if the driveway into the eastern parking lot is removed. Many people prefer to park on the boulevard and during The Oinkster’s active business hours it will likely be occupied by one of their customers. Outside of The Oinkster’s hours that space can then be used by patrons of nearby businesses such as The Coffee Table.
Surely adding a frontage patio can be a topic worth exploring since all the benefits described above could be had at the cost of 3 parking spaces.*
*Really only 2 parking spaces are lost as the construction of a frontage patio would allow for an additional curbside parking space directly in front of The Oinkster.