Phoenix's Vernon Avenue Pocket Park Opens This Saturday
Two thousand square feet isn't all that large in the grand scheme of things. Put the number in perspective, and it's about a quarter of the size of an endzone in the NFL but more than five times as big as the average crosswalk. It's also the approximate size of the new Vernon Avenue Pocket Park, which officially opens this Saturday, January 18.
Janessa Hilliard Through the trees: a glimpse at the pocket park on 10 West Vernon Avenue.
Hidden just off Central Avenue in midtown, the miniature oasis is situated between neighborhood walk-up coffee shop Shine Coffee and its extended indoor "living room" seating area. The location is purposeful. Connected by a broken-edged brick pathway, the park is designed to extend the flow of seating between the two outposts. The goal? Creating a true indoor/outdoor space -- the kind that has become a staple in the Valley.
Mayor Greg Stanton will cut the ceremonial ribbon shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday morning. David Anaya of Phoenix Renews project and Colin Tetrault of Arizona State University's School of Sustainability will also be in attendance. The park plans to partner with architecture students from ASU to design and create custom benches and additional lighting.
The park was the brainchild of Christiaan Blok and Layrn Callaway-Blok, the husband-and-wife team who own Shine Coffee. The couple turned to the public to create the space, soliciting donations through the crowd funding website Kickstarter. They raised over a thousand dollars more than the original goal of $22,000, with the average donation hovering around $75.
The pieces were beginning to fall into place when we reported on the project in October, and the park was slated to be open to the public by the end of fall. This weekend's opening date is the result of the inevitable delays that come with construction, Callaway-Blok said -- like finding the remnants of an in-ground pool in the middle of the landscape.
Still, the implementation has stayed true to design. Developed and donated by Kirby Hoyt of Edge Industries, who gave Biltmore Fashion Park a facelift back in 2007, the space was meant to mimic the Tuileries Garden in Paris. That sprawling urban refuge is known for expansive greenery and fluidity, as parkgoers are encouraged to rearrange and move benches and café tables to their liking.
"It's funny to have to explain these things in Phoenix," Callaway-Blok says. "A European sidewalk café."