City’s got civic center vision thing
City leaders are moving forward on a plan to revamp Alameda’s civic core that could be put in motion in the next 15 to 18 months, Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant has said.
The plan envisions new uses for the former Chun gas station, Towata Flowers and Carnegie library, and for the space now occupied by CVS. It also envisions a host of new residential, office, retail and parking along civic center corridors; parks where some of the city’s existing parking lots sit; and better pedestrian access and lighting in the areas that surround City Hall.
Some specific uses proposed during a presentation to the Community Improvement Commission (read: City Council) last Wednesday include additional parking and a five-screen extension of the Alameda Theatre & Cineplex or a hotel where CVS now sits and retail, restaurant and office uses on the gas station and Towata sites that would retain the station’s canopy and Towata’s iconic sign. Housing could front new parking along Lincoln Avenue.
Planners from Urban Design Associates also suggested putting public parks where the City Hall parking lot and Parking Lot C (across from the theater) sit now. And their plan envisions better pedestrian access, more street trees, better lighting and public art in the city’s civic core.
Gallant said the council would get a second presentation in April that will lay out how the city will make the plan a reality.
Council members, business leaders and history buffs alike said they’re excited about the plan, which they see as the final piece of a long-running effort to rejuvenate Alameda’s downtown. Wednesday’s presentation marked the first public outing for the plan, though leaders of the Park Street Business Association, Alameda Architectural Preservation Society and other “stakeholder” groups were contacted for their input before the plan went before the Council.
“Looking at this, it’s hard not to get excited,” Councilwoman Marie Gilmore said. “I want to ask Ann Marie where’s the money coming from and when we can get started.”
Gallant said she has some “immediate transactions” lined up that could help finance the proposed improvements and that the city is working on grants to fix up the former fire station behind City Hall and the Carnegie building. She said more specifics can be available in the next 30 to 45 days.
“This is stuff we can definitely start doing in the next 15 to 18 months,” Gallant said.
The planning process got underway in July 2009, after Councilman Frank Matarrese asked the council to consider putting the Alameda Museum in the long-vacant Carnegie. City staff came back with the suggestion that a broader plan for the city’s civic core be pursued.
“That corner out there with the gas station – I’m telling you, I’m ready to have a lunch out there under an umbrella,” Matarrese said.