UPPER BROADWAY is the first neighborhood to be targeted for a retail resurgence in a study awaiting approval by the city’s Community and Economic Development Agency.
The study proposes ways for Oakland to provide much-needed stimulus to the retail sector in 18 different neighborhoods. The upper Broadway area from 27th Street to 51st Street is the first neighborhood the study suggests should be targeted for an infusion of new business and a mix of retail and residential development.
The study, released in September and prepared by real estate and economic development consultant Denise Conley, suggests ways to fuel retail traffic without substantial investment from the city.
As some auto dealers on Broadway’s Auto Row relocate to the Army Base or other locations, the vacancies leave “a prime location for a lifestyle retail district,” the study said.
The study suggests three alternatives for retooling upper Broadway:
-The first suggests a mixture of retail and residential or office space. Retailers offering a mix of wares, including clothing, home furnishings and appliances, wouldoccupy the ground floors of buildings, with upper floors reserved for residential or office space. More than 1 million square feet of retail space would be created under this scenario.
-The second scenario foresees big box retailers as anchor tenants in the stretch between Broadway and 27th Street and residential development along Valdez Street. More than 1.1 million square feet of retail space would emerge from this plan.
-The third alternative emphasizes residential development. Retailers at ground level would offer mostly convenience products, such as food, beverages, medications and others. Only 312,000 square feet of retail space would emerge from this option, however.
The City Council will deliberate on these alternatives Dec. 18. The time and place of the meeting have not yet been announced.
Oakland residents have long suffered from the scarcity of places to shop, whether they’re looking for groceries, clothing, home furnishings or appliances. Conley’s report said Oakland residents spend $1 billion a year shopping outside of Oakland — typically in Emeryville, San Francisco, Walnut Creek and elsewhere in the Bay Area.
That $1 billion translates to $10 million a year in lost sales tax revenue and as many as 10,400 fewer jobs. Retail jobs are typically entry positions, important training posts for the young and those returning to the work force, Conley wrote.
For the last 40 years, Oakland has launched numerous studies of its inefficient retail sector. Many big-name retailers are discouraged from entering the city because of concerns about the crime rate, real estate brokers have said in previous interviews.
Officials, though, said they hope the time is right to rejuvenate Oakland’s sagging retail sector.
“We have had retail strategies, but they have not been as comprehensive and as action-oriented as this is,” said Keira Williams, an economic analyst with the Commission on Economic Development. “So finally we’ve said, ‘Enough already, we want to get on with it now.’”
Earlier this year, retail consultant Marcus and Millichap ranked Oakland as the fourth most desirable city for investors to place retail properties, based on factors including employment growth and the local housing market. Marcus and Millichap said Oakland has the lowest housing vacancy rate in the nation.
And retailers appear to be interested.
Larry Westland of TRI Commercial Real Estate Services said he has clients who would be interested in opening up major retail outlets on the Broadway corridor. The outlets could be configured on five or six floors connected by escalators, the way Kohl’s or Target are in many developments.
New plans for the remaining 17 neighborhoods the city has specified are expected to be addressed by Conley Consulting Group by March.
Other neighborhoods targeted for renewal include the Telegraph corridor; 7th Street/West Oakland; the Oakland Army Base; and West Grand Avenue and Mandela Parkway.
“We still have convenience gaps that need to be filled, food, pharmacies, etc., in many neighborhoods,” Conley said. “We’ll do what we can to make them function better. We’re going to see a very big reversal of shopping patterns in Oakland. No longer will we be meeting our neighbors in someone else’s city.”