Scott Gregory’s EIR for the private redevelopment and re-positioning of the underperforming suburban-style neighborhood shopping center is a good example of current work in the City of Oakland. Our client, Safeway Stores, wishes to replace its existing shopping complex with a more urban scale mixed-use commercial center utilizing higher densities and a wider mix of land uses within a site plan that better promotes pedestrian, bicycle and transit access. The environmental review process involved complex topographic, land use, circulation and aesthetic issues.
The 15.40-acre site is located on the northeast corner of Pleasant Valley Avenue and Broadway in the northern part of Oakland, not far from the Rockridge BART station. Once a gravel quarry dating back to the 1920s, the site was initially developed in the early 1960s as a multi-tenant neighborhood shopping center, anchored by a an 87,000 square foot CVS Pharmacy (formerly Longs Drugs) and a 48,000 sq. ft. Safeway. Today, the center contains approximately 185,500 square feet of commercial space.
The Project will happen in phases allowing existing stores to remain operational and economically viable throughout the construction period. Phasing will match future development with current and expected future retail market demands. Ultimately, the project will replace the existing 185,500 square feet of commercial retail space with 280,000 square feet of new space. Importantly, the broad expanse of surface parking that currently dominates the site will be broken up and placed partly below grade, partly at grade (in smaller groupings and heavily landscaped) and partly on building rooftops. Site circulation issues – long a source of local congestion – will be significantly improved with new points of access and revised site topography. The EIR was certified and the Project was approved in early October 2013 with a unanimous vote by the Oakland Planning Commission.
Under the direction of Scott Gregory, Project Manager and principal document preparer, technical studies were prepared by Fehr & Peers (traffic), Illingworth & Rodkin (Noise, Air Quality, GHG) and EDAW (biology). With the support of technical experts on our team and the active involvement by Safeway’s design consultants, Scott steered the Project concept towards a more urban, tight-knit character where cars and parking would be subordinate to pedestrian & bicycle access, resulting ultimately in a site design that received widespread acceptance and support from the community.