I heard that initially someone in the City wanted a catchy name for the Park Street North of Lincoln area and one of the names that they were juggling around was NoLi. Like SoHo, or SoMa. But someone’s better judgement won out and now they are calling it the “Gateway DIstrict.”
The first of a series of meetings discussing the Strategic Plan starts on Wednesday with the Economic Development Commission, moved on to the Historic Advisory Board in Septmeber, then to the Planning Board, and finally the Transportation Commission. Also, if anyone is interested, there are two openings on the EDC, one is a community-at-large position.
This is the area of Park Street that is largely dominated by auto related uses, and the Island High parcel, the subject of much debate, is a part of. Right now between the depressing Park Street Landing strip mall and the soon to be vacated auto dealerships, this section of Park Street really does nothing to prepare folks for the other part of Park Street, which has undergone amazing transformations in these past few years. Even if you don’t like the streetscapes or the trees, you have to admit that Park Street looks pretty spiffy these days. Speaking of the Park Street Landing strip mall, even though the renderings are just for illustrative purposes only, I really like the idea of opening up the waterfront in the drawing they have for a new Park Street Landing.
So it looks like the grand plan is to make this area more pedestrian friendly and make it feel less auto oriented even though the majority of the use in the area currently caters to car uses like auto repair shops and dealerships by relocating the auto uses to Clement or having the auto uses be placed inside buildings. There also are plans to bring storefront closer to the street and relocate parking to the back of the building. It appears that the plan is to incorporate housing over the storefronts as well and all in all to create a truly mixed use district for the “Gateway” of Alameda.
Under this plan, it is now the right time to talk about what are the plans for the Island High site, rather than the rather premature discussion with the inclusionary housing swap, etc… Talking about the Island High site in context with everything else that is planned for the Gateway district should be a lot more palatable than a developer swooping in on a neighborhood and putting up its defenses.
Interestingly enough when it comes to the type of business that the plan thinks should relocate to the Gateway area they mention “destination store” which, to me, sounds an awful lot like bigger stores or — clutch the pearls — the dreaded chain stores because the intention is not to act as a competitor to the other part of Park Street but rather to act as a complement. And there is a mention several times about a hotel/motel use, which I could actually see fitting in quite well in the area.
Also, what would any staff report or report in general be without the requisite mention about “green” businesses. One of the suggestions is the creation of a “green business center,” which sounds really great, but then when you get to the nitty gritty about trying to find “green businesses” to fill these spaces, it gets a bit more hairy.