Today on Streets.mn: The Case for Food Truck Plazas

[Food truck park in Portland, where everything's cool.]
I don't know. Food trucks aren't really my bag. Maybe if I had a lot of disposable income and a boring job, they'd appeal to me. I'm more of a greasy spoon, dark hole-in-the-wall / cook fancy food in your own kitchen kinda guy.

But I don't dislike them, and I get why others enjoy the experience. I think the model is a hell of a lot better than skyway status quo.

Two years ago I found myself in downtown Portland, and they had food trucks that occupied their surface parking lots downtown. It seemed like an elegant way to accomodate street vending while simultaneously filling in the parking lot desert.

I wrote about that today on Streets.mn. Here's the punchline:
Close your eyes and picture a world where half of the surface parking lots in downtown Minneapolis was transformed into food truck parks. In San Francisco and Portland, I have personally seen surface parking lots that have become food truck oases, little semi-landscaped clusters of food truckery surrounding tables or napkins where people can sit and wipe their chins like normal dignified people.
There could be a whole range of these kinds of food truck parks, scattered in spots around the great parking periphery of downtown Minneapolis. These food truck parks could be varied, sitting somewhere on a spectrum from temporary-to-permanent. They could have different characters and designs. Some could disappear in the winter, some could stick around like hungry robins.

This would be a great idea. It reminds me of last week's post on the Wabasha Street plaza. Or places like the Unidale mall or the Lake Street K-Mart on their best days, places that despite all odds, actually have a pulse.

The one caveat I can see property owners having is that installing a "plaza" or "park" would make it theoretically more difficult to redevelop the land (which, we must remember, has been sitting and 'waiting' for redevelopment for half a century at this point).

One solution is to make them "pop-up parks," which might reinforce their temporary status. Anything's better than what we have now.

[Same goes for Saint Paul.]

1 comment:

KateSweat said...

Food truck plazas have their place, but in general, they're just a way for a landlord to to get rent off a property without actually investing anything in it - make the tenant provide the structure and utilities. If they built tiny permanent stalls, the workers could work in safer, climate controlled conditions, and patrons would have bathrooms instead of porta-potties. It mostly enables the landlord to sit on property without doing anything with it - to bank it while they wait for the Big Fish to come buy it for the inflated price they want. The best way to get the owner to settle for a Medium Fish and do something useful with the property is to tax the land at a higher rate than the improvements. Makes it expensive to sit it out, and encourages property improvements.