Could part of midtown’s 20th Street become an urban park?

The block of 20th Street in midtown Sacramento that runs between J and K streets is a hub of the central city. It’s closed to vehicle traffic many weekends to host art fairs and Second Saturday concerts, and popular restaurants and nightclubs line the street.

Seeking to build off that momentum – and take advantage of the city’s recent decision to devote some parking spaces around town to “parklets” – midtown property owners and city officials are in the early stages of discussing whether 20th Street should be easier to shut down for big events.

There’s even talk of permanently closing down half the block – the section that runs from J Street to the alley – and transforming that area into a small urban park.

Mike Heller, who owns both the MARRS retail and restaurant complex on the block’s west side and the former Sacramento News and Review building across the street that now houses video game developer EA, said 20th “is just that perfect street to close off.”

“We’re percolating some ideas,” Heller said.

Heller and city officials are exploring a couple of ideas to make the block easier to close, including installing retractable bollards. For now, city police officers staff both ends of the block when events shut the area down, and Heller said a one-time investment such as bollards could save the city money in the long run.

Another idea that’s been floated is creating a permanent park at the north end of the block, bordering J Street.

The City Council last month voted to launch a pilot program for business owners to install between six and 10 “parklets” in parking spaces around the city. A series of parklets was set up temporarily on 20th Street in September – and city officials said that event was a hit.

“We’ve all seen the power of closing a single parking space and what it can do for the urban fabric,” Heller said. “Can you imagine creating a little urban pocket park?”