The legacy of a previous Daniel Rose Fellowship year was on display this week as the 2013-2014 class of Daniel Rose Fellows toured the Oakland, California’s Broadway corridor. As part of an ongoing program to redefine Broadway as Oakland’s “Main Street,” fill gaps in the urban fabric and support an emerging arts and entertainment district, the city recently completed its Latham Square Pilot Project, which closed the block to vehicle traffic for six weeks in August and September.
“What we’re trying to do is create public spaces and then hand them over to our business improvement district, who would then program them with daytime concerts, things like that,” said Brian Kendall, urban economic analyst with Oakland’s Office of Neighborhood Investment.
Two lanes of vehicle traffic reopened while a number of alternatives for the space are under consideration by city staff and elected officials — including 2011-2012 Daniel Rose Fellows Mayor Jean Quan, Aliza Gallo of the Office of Economic and Workforce Development, Director Gregory Hunter of the Office of Neighborhood Development and City Administrator Deanna Sentana.
“We found that when there was a complete closure this turned into a giant cul-de-sac and the merchants here suffered,” Kendall explained. “While it’s a kind of sexy idea close streets [to cars] altogether, what we really need is a little bit of vehicle traffic to keep things moving, to keep maximum eyes on the retail.”
The fellows toured other recent developments in the Broadway area on Tuesday.
“We are what my kids call a ‘real city’,” Quan said as she addressed this year’s fellows. “We are the city that’s leading the country out of the recession.”
Kendall called the Broadway Avenue streetscape improvements “a real ULI success story.”