The temporary pedestrian plaza, Latham Square, had an introductory opening at Telegraph Avenue and Broadway on August 16, 2013, with a Grand Opening targeted for September and the permanent revisions to be completed in 2014. After months of community outreach, numerous local stakeholder meetings, a public design forum and study of area traffic, the pilot project implements an alternative use of public space to have a permanent effect on local businesses, downtown circulation and neighborhood vibrancy.

Google Maps image of Telegraph and Broadway in Downtown Oakland Before Urban Renovations

 Google Maps image of Telegraph and Broadway in Downtown Oakland before urban renovations

Telegraph and Broadway After Pilot Renovations - Of the first mobile elements, a “Latham” sign constructed with reclaimed street signs from the city is among the first recycled pieces using materials from Oakland's maintenance yards.

Telegraph and Broadway after pilot renovations – Of the first mobile elements, a “Latham” sign constructed with reclaimed street signs from the city is among the first recycled pieces, using materials from Oakland’s maintenance yards.

The urban renovations will be provided by a State Grant, along with the support of the Downtown Oakland Association, City Council and the public. The Rebar Group provided the city with the initial design concept which included plants, trees, seating and art. Popuphood is a social enterprise liaison for neighborhood revitalization and place making through creative economic development. As a consultant to municipalities, developers, businesses and communities, Popuphood initiated the collective transformation of vacant spaces into re-engaging destinations that enrich the urban experience.

HUB Oakland offers a PopUp Co-working Space of Popuphood

HUB Oakland offers a PopUp Co-working Space of Popuphood

Recently meeting their KickStarter crowd-sourced goals, the new space is now under construction at 2323 Broadway to host social entrepreneurs, artists, performance, classes, workshops, a kitchen and cafe.

Recently meeting their KickStarter crowd-sourced goals, the new space is now under construction at 2323 Broadway, which will host social entrepreneurs, artists, performance, classes, workshops, a kitchen and cafe.

HUB Oakland is the first Pop-up co-working space for Popuphood, which will serve as an entrepreneurial incubator to the square by facilitating the rotation of installments from local innovators and artisans. They focus on cultivating and connecting activists, artists, environmentalists and pioneers of equality and sustainability into urban innovation clusters.

However, the Latham Square project did meet with some resistance due to closing off the small segment of street for the plaza; though even more have stepped up to back the changes at the intersection. For example, East Bay Bicycle Coalition and Walk Oakland Bike Oakland have joined in on efforts to re-energize public support for measures which will calm traffic, increase pedestrian use and return vitality to the downtown district. From New York to San Francisco, many efforts to reclaim urban space from the automobile back to the pedestrian were also initially met with critics before proving their merit. Likewise, this public/private partnership to integrate business and retail with pocket parks and public space may be just what downtown Oakland needs to come back to life and add to the list of successes proving nay-sayers wrong.

In your city, what retail areas do you connect with more because of the integration with public space?

Credits: Images by Gina Kiani and Google Maps. Data linked to sources.