The Whiteaker CarPark Project is in phase one of a multi-year plan to address community issues stemming from an imbalance of livability, sustainable economic growth, and cultural heritage. To addresses space, growth, and heritage the project develops mixed-use parking lots or CarParks as business district gateways with six mobile murals depicting community cultural heritage. Thus, the CarParks serve both community development and historic education for people who live in or visit the Whiteaker.
Community development in Whiteaker has favored local business at the expense of livability. Flagship brewpubs and unique dining establishments in Whiteaker’s business district have brought new economic development. Attracted to Eugene’s eclectic and artsy “Whit” neighborhood, tourists from the university, from Portland, and beyond have increased car traffic, and yet infrastructure and parking have not kept pace. Tensions mount between residents and businesses as parking overflows to residential streets, leaving neighbors competing with tourists, for reduced parking options. Further, the volume of tourism is overwhelming and changing the cultural climate of the neighborhood; the community identity is being lost to commerce, and “gentrification” issues are emerging in our press.
While a simple parking lot would alleviate the infrastructure problem, without an arts component these lots only exacerbate the tension by benefiting business expansion while merely returning the residential streets to status quo. To address the community’s request for representation and sustainability, this creative place-making proposal uses art to transform two vacant lots into CarParks: gateway lots that draw tourists to park there rather than off-street, because attractive murals tell the community’s story. Community storytelling is vital to restoring livability for residents who don’t simply want to recoup the parking spot outside their homes. Residents want to educate visitors about the distinct character and quality of this place. For this arts-rich community, there is no better tool to reclaim community identity than leveraging the power of the arts, culture and creativity to express this locale.
The CarPark gateways serve
1) Neighborhood businesses by creating needed parking and alleviating tensions with nearby neighbors;
2) Tourists with convenient, walkable parking and a formal greeting from- and orientation to- our neighborhood;
3) Neighbors by alleviating competition for residential parking while broadcasting the neighborhood’s identity though murals that tell community stories;
4) Local artists with a professional opportunity and workshop. CarParks preserve Whiteaker’s diverse identity - past and present - through creative placemaking.