Fresh plans drawn up for Webster Street
A consultant for the city has drawn up fresh plans for retooling Webster Street that includes fresh paint and landscaping, signage, traffic lights – and potentially, the reconstruction of the tower that once announced the entrance of Neptune Beach.
The plans are being put together in an effort to jump-start a slow growing rebirth of the street, whose proponents hope to realize some of the same successes Park Street has enjoyed. A “fairly final” plan for the street is due back to the City Council in January.
“We think the street has remarkable potential. It’s a very healthy street already. It could become a better version of what it is today,” Barry Long of Urban Design Associates, the firm the city hired to create a new vision for Webster Street, told the City Council at its meeting Tuesday. Long said the firm sought to maintain Webster Street’s “quirky character” in its plans and pointed out a list of positive developments there, including the opening of the Frog and Fiddle, pending opening of Cafe Jolie at the old Tillie’s location and proposed revamp of a 76 gas station site.
The plan envisions some potential changes on Webster Street that could include redeveloping the Days Inn hotel and building infill projects on the US Bank parking lot on Taylor Street and at the corner of Webster Street and Pacific Avenue, adjacent to Otaez Mexican Restaurant.
It also envisions a host of efforts to fix up the street that include makeovers for Discount City and the Tin Building at 1521-25 Webster and landscaping and upkeep for parks and green areas that surround the street, and signs to help people find Webster Street and the shops and restaurants there.
And Long said he’d seek to build a stronger relationship with the College of Alameda. One idea was to put dance and other classes into empty storefronts.
But one of the most intriguing ideas, perhaps, which was advanced by local preservationists, was to reconstruct the 100-foot Moorish tower that stood at the entrance of the former Neptune Beach.
“I think it would be quite an asset to Webster Street. It would give it an identity it has been missing for decades,” said David Baker, a longtime West End resident. He said he thinks the tower, which Mayor Beverly Johnson said she liked, could draw people from all over the Bay Area.
Preservationists also said they’d like to see the Posey Tube undergo restoration efforts. Mayor-elect Marie Gilmore said she thinks it might be easier to find money to restore the Tube than rebuild the tower.