Karen Hester: The New Parkway to Land in Temescal?

24 Feb

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.

I have a rough video and more photos if desired. Please contact anyone who might be interested and refer them to Karen Hester, karen@hesternet.net and Moses Ceasar at moses@thenewparkway.com.

The New Parkway is also considering locating on upper Broadway. Read more about that location.

2 Responses to “Karen Hester: The New Parkway to Land in Temescal?”

  1. Andy K March 2, 2011 at 2:22 pm #

    Don’t forget Eli’s Mile High Club – it is between the Uptown and Temescal. I finally got over there the Sunday before Presidents Day. No live show that night, but I will go back.

    While I hope the Parkway opens back in the original location, I think that the Temescal would also be a great location.

  2. Lynne Elizabeth March 6, 2011 at 5:16 pm #

    Hi Karen,

    I so appreciate the energy, community building, and leadership you have helped bring this neighborhood through the very successful street fair, revitalization of Studio One (don’t miss Transformative Visions there next Saturday the 12th with art, jazz, and spoken word), and regular communications to the neighborhood about new restaurants and retailers. I’d be thrilled to have the new Parkway here!!

    I’d also like to let folks know about another new and stellar venue on Telegraph——The 57th Street Gallery. This great jazz and art spot has different fabulous musicians every Saturday night with dinner included for so cheap it’s embarrassing, free teaching jam sessions for young musicians, free jazz history lectures, wonderful art exhibitions, and a beautiful community spirit. It’s jazz and art For The People——look out Yoshi’s! http://www.57thstreetgallery.com/

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