Upper Broadway – the perfect home for the New Parkway

25 Feb

Yesterday, Temescal resident Karen Hester wrote about the Temescal location the New Parkway is considering, and I agree that Temescal would be a great location for the theater. But you know where would be just as good or even better – the other location the New Parkway is considering on Upper Broadway, the old Audi dealership at 2345 Broadway.

Even though I walk or bus past this building everyday, I had a hard time figuring out exactly which building it was (there are a lot of vacant spaces in that area) so I thought I’d share some photos to orient folks who might be as confused as I was.

In between 23rd and 24th on Broadway on the West side of the street across from the YMCA is a stretch of vacant storefronts that used to be auto dealerships. They’re large empty spaces with glass windows and some blue tiling:


It’s hard to tell from this photo, but these spaces are huge, blank canvasses, as they had to be to display so many cars. They could easily be converted to house a movie theater or a large dance club.

Besides being the right size, this building is in the right place. It’s towards the edge of Uptown, where stuff has only started to pick up in the past couple of years. A block and a half to the South are Pican and Ozumo. A block and a half to the North are Shashamane, Mua, and Nex. Yet this part of Broadway feel disconnected as there’s not much nightlife scene in between, and the New Parkway could help pull that stretch of Broadway together.

And it wouldn’t have to do it on its own (though I think it could). Right next door are the Packard Lofts and Mimosa, a champagne bar. Mimosa hasn’t quite taken off. It’s a good spot for events, but when events aren’t happening there, I rarely see more than 5 people inside as I walk by. Mimosa could benefit from the foot traffic that the Parkway would bring.

Coincidentally, when I took a bunch of photos on Broadway in November, Mimosa had this piece of artwork displayed:

The location is easily accessible by transit – the 51 drops you off right in front and several other bus lines stop a couple blocks away. BART is just a short walk down Broadway. The Temescal location has good transit options too, and you can imagine how much I hate to write this, but I fear that location’s downfall would be parking. I think it’s fairly easy to park in Temescal but the businesses and some of the residents don’t seem to think so and were very upset about parking spaces bus rapid transit might take away. I’m concerned that some neighbors might oppose the New Parkway moving to Temescal because they’re worried about losing parking.

Those wouldn’t be as big of issues on Broadway. Right next to the proposed location is a giant lot that’s usually full during the day but empty at night, even on weekends. It could handle most if not all of the New Parkway’s parking needs. There are several other lots and plenty of street parking within a couple blocks of the theater as well.

Just like Karen, who wants the New Parkway to come to her neighborhood, I’m a bit biased. I love the thought of being able to walk to the New Parkway, have some pizza and beer and watch a movie, and walk back home. I also love the idea of having some entertainment in the neighborhood besides bars and clubs.

But beyond my selfish wishes, I think this location would suit the New Parkway perfectly. The up and coming neighborhood would welcome it instead of fight it, the space seems near perfect, and it would speed up the development of and investment in upper Broadway.

Like I wrote in my post about 3000 Broadway, upper Broadway is developing on its own, whether the City’s specific plan moves forward or not. And even if the New Parkway doesn’t move to Broadway, it will continue to progress. But if the New Parkway does come to Broadway, this development will kick into high gear, as bars, restaurants, and retail will want to be near the theater and its foot traffic.

I contributed to the New Parkway and will be happy no matter where it ends up (assuming it stays in Oakland). Whether on Broadway or in Temescal, I’ll go to the theater and enjoy it, but I’m casting my vote for the Broadway location. You can share your opinion in the New Parkway’s extremely brief survey (it takes 30 seconds to a minute to complete). They aim to sign a lease within the next month so now is the time to think about where you’d like the New Parkway to locate.

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10 Responses to “Upper Broadway – the perfect home for the New Parkway”

  1. Daniel Jacobson February 25, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    That’s also the site for part two of the Broadway-Grand development–one of the largest projects in Downtown Oakland, if/when it ever gets off the ground. I suppose the fact that the current building is up for leasing means that the project is dead for now, which is too bad.

    • Becks February 25, 2011 at 9:32 am #

      Huh – I didn’t know that. Yeah, I guess that does mean the project is dead, which is sad, but since it’s dead, it would be better to have something rather than a huge vacant building.

    • Hometown grrl February 25, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      Correct, this is the location for part two of Broadway Grand. Most of the new business moved to the Uptown based on having a mass of residents in addition to regular visitors. The Farleys and Starbucks on Grand and W Grand respectively must be the only coffee shops in residential areas to close at 7pm.

      I think the parking is an illusion. Street parking tends to go quickly and Douglas will not hesitate to charge between $5 and $10 for parking.

    • Hometown grrl February 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

      I think the project is dead until you see a drop in unemployment. Unless the building is sold outright, it probably does not make a lot of sense to do a temporary lease.

      Here is a thought and maybe this is the plan…I think the bottom floor is scheduled for retail possibly the New Parkway can locate in that space.

  2. SA February 25, 2011 at 11:40 am #

    I voted for this location because it’s so much more BART accessible. MacArthur isn’t super far from the 48th and Shattuck site, but BART is so close to this site, and if the Parkway is going to thrive, I think it needs to capture some folks from SF, plus people in the farther-flung regions of the EB for whom BART is the best means of access.

  3. Andy K February 25, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Either Broadway or Temescal would be good for me. Just get a lease!

  4. artemis February 25, 2011 at 2:15 pm #

    The thing I really like about the potential Uptown location is the BART accessibility. One of the big issues we had with the original Parkway was that when it was raining, there were very few transit options for getting over there. So we almost always drove. Both of the proposed locations have much better transit options (especially if/when BRT goes in), but realistically people are far more likely to walk to the Uptown location from 19th Street BART (where you go through an active nighttime area) than to the Temescal location from MacArthur BART (still not too many late-night spots open along that stretch of Shattuck and Telegraph). It’s actually not that much farther, but a lot of people seem to have psychological issues with MacArthur BART.

    I’ll be excited to check out the new theater at any of the locations being tossed around—happily all are pretty close to me!—but I do think tapping into a potential audience that includes SF and Berkeley folks is going to be critical for it to succeed, so the transit and parking do matter a lot. The old Parkway always seemed like a well-kept Oakland secret—which was great until it failed. :(

  5. Karen Hester February 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Interesting points Becks but I did host a communty meeting with around 25 folks in the neigborhood and no one seemed to feel that lack of parking was such a big deal. Yes, some merchants and a few residents oppose the BRT because of lost parking spaces but the addition of a New Parkway doesn’t seem to cause the same concern, mostly because the majority of time the need will be at night and it’s actually harder to find a parking space during the day in the Temescal. Bottom line, the Parkway folks will go after the best lease and terms and getting other folks to lease with them at the Temescal site may provide more security for a larger lease. At least 6 different non-profits and biz have expressed interest in being co-locators with the Parkway in the Temescal. Let’s just hope one of these locations pans out!

  6. jaded February 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    After touring the Broadway Grand, I though meh. The layouts weren’t great, the finishes weren’t great and the price was pretty high. There were much better options at that price point. Maybe if they came onto the market at a logical price, starting around $200k, they would have sold. The started at about $350k — ridiculously overpriced.

    Farley’s is opening in the evenings a few nights a week. The hours are steadily increasing, but that zone is still is a bit of a ghost town at night, but improving.

  7. David Alger March 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    The Uptown Area is alive in buzzing. We have comedy improv shows on every Friday and Saturday, Lucas is always packed and the new bars opened in the area seem to be doing well. Perhaps Oakland’s Broadway is getting ready to take off.

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