This guest post was written by Karen Hester, an events organizer who was a founder of Temescal Creek Cohousing. She served on Friends of Studio One during its renovation, is a board member of Destiny Arts Center, and is a member of ULTRA (Urbanists for a Livable Temescal and Rockridge Assocation).
I’ve lived in the Temescal for the last 13 years and have witnessed and been a catalyst for its change from a pretty run down neighborhood to a magnet for urban hipsters who appreciate the artsy vibe and gourmet eats. But just how many delicious and rather expensive meals can one have without thinking, ” I want some culture to go along with my Burma Superstar tealef salad.”
For years I have decried the fact that there is no real listening club from La Peña Cultural Center in South Berkeley to the Uptown and its renaissance. You read that right, no place to regulalrly hear or see live performance in Rockridge, Temescal or Piedmont Avenue. Oakland was once an important center for blues and jazz and yet where are the lively streets that make Austin, New Orleans or even Portland way more interesting for live performance?
Maybe a cultural seed will be planted and watered with the emergence of a recent effort to open a New Parkway Theater. The man behind the effort is Moses Caesar and he has raised over $400,000 from investors and is moving the idea forward. Around 25 of us met recently to meet Moses, hear of his plans and give encouragement and feedback. Many of us in the Temescal are dying for the New Parkway (possibly called Parkway Paraiso?) to come into the hood. The proposed location is 48th St and Shattuck Ave. (Read the latest newsletter or sign up to receive updates to learn more.)
In the mid-90’s, I produced a benefit concert for single payer healthcare in the old Omni/Luguri Italian club space, 22,000 sf with 3 levels. It has an amazingly large footprint with high ceilings, an old bar and red and black checkerbaord tiles in the side room with the bar. In other words, some real character and kitchy charm. Moses has made an offer to lease the space from the elderly couple who now own it and he is looking for co-locators to rent some of the space and share common areas.
Neither the top or basement levels are wheelchair accesible and might be something like 7000 sf each with lots of interesting rooms. A group that ran an after school tutoring program, culinary or catering arts or the like would be perfect for the basement as it has a large room, lots of smaller rooms and a commercial kitchen.
Upstairs some of the space has very high ceilings, there is a small kitchen etc. I think some dance and martial arts companies might also be a good fit. I could also see it as a great space for open mikes. Moses says it’s difficult to get a cabaret license for this area but I have to wonder as it’s gotten much easier now in the Uptown. I don’t think it’s out of the question to try and partner with a group who’s promoting more live music and theater, comedy, spoken word – more along the lines of La Peña in Berkeley.
The New Parkway is also considering locating on upper Broadway. Read more about that location.