Retail could come to auto row, if NIMBYs and the whims of politicians don’t stop it

Today, I wrote about the Conley Group’s upper Broadway report for Novometro. I won’t rehash everything here – click through and read the story for the details.

Also, read the report (PDF!). It’s fascinating. And inspiring. Walking up and down Broadway yesterday to take photos for the story, I was overwhelmed by the incredible potential in the area. It was so easy to see stylish boutiques filling up the beautiful art deco storefronts and residential towers bringing vibrancy to the gaps where lots full of cars now sit.

I could see myself in ten years strolling down the street, soaking in the ambiance and stopping to play with my adorable little children at those cute little plazas currently piled with cars.

The report makes it clear that this can happen. But we as a city have to committ to it. We cannot be changing our development priorities with every election.

I do want to highlight one aspect of the report that didn’t make it into the Novometro piece. As one of the requirements for success of a retail district, the report identifies:

Shoppers and merchants are free of concern about crime. For shoppers this means freedom from fear of crime against their persons or possessions as they enter or leave the retail environment and while shopping. For merchants this means freedom from fear that their merchandise is secure until purchased, and their employees are secure as they travel to and from work.

Store burglaries like those experienced by Amy Cools at her North Oakland boutique Afterglow place a tremendous burden on small, independent retailers. One commenter on this blog has repeatedly stated that the Council should ignore the concerns of the “crime obsessed.” This report makes it clear that such an attitude comes at a tremendous cost to Oakland.

4 thoughts on “Retail could come to auto row, if NIMBYs and the whims of politicians don’t stop it

  1. Steve R

    This could be a great location for retail and housing with all the beautiful architecture and wide sidewalks. I don’t have much faith in most of our elected officials to make this happen, unfortunately. At least the City authorized the study, that’s a good sign.

  2. Becks

    I read this last night and spent most of my time waiting for buses today fantasizing about a retail-housing filled auto row. My fantasy doesn’t include strollers, but it does include open places, getting rid of my car, and lots of options within a few blocks.

    By the way, I love the new(ish) look of the site. It’s hot!

  3. V Smoothe Post author

    Thanks, Becks. I really hope that auto row as a retail district gets off the ground. I certainly know that it’s tough to have faith in the Council to provide a long-term commitment to anything, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    The CED committee really liked the report and, and the zoning update committee will be moving forward with retail design guidelines at (I think) their next meeting. So at least things are getting off the ground.

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