In June 2013, the City Council commissioned the highly renowned urban design firm of Freedman Tung + Sasaki and the economic consulting firm, Spinnaker Strategies, to prepare a quick planning and economic study to address the immediate needs and opportunities arising from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center (to be completed in Summer 2014) and the Lit San Leandro high speed fiber loop. The study is also intended to guide the transformation of the industrial area into a vibrant, innovative and attractive 21st century workplace that will attract and retain advanced manufacturing and high tech companies and stimulate the creation of high paying jobs.
Freedman Tung + Sasaki and Spinnaker Strategies presented their findings and recommendations to the City Council on September 9, as well as on October 7, due to the high level of interest in the study. Freedman Tung + Sasaki also made a formal community presentation on October 2, 2013 to local and affected stakeholders (i.e., property areas, existing businesses and associations, residents) at the Zero Net Energy Center located in the City’s industrial area.
The study describes the City’s historical and current industrial area and evaluates the area’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The report also contains a map and list of opportunity sites vulnerable to change and strategies to better adapt the industrial area to immediate economic opportunities like Kaiser Medical Center, Lit San Leandro and the flexible and interactive demands (i.e., restaurants, bars, cafes) of the modern, digital workforce.
The three key strategies are: 1) boost value-added companies, 2) engage existing businesses, and 3) humanize the industrial area. Conceptual physical improvements proposed for the area include: Creating an attractive and uniform “spine” or boulevard on Merced Street; and improvements to Marina Boulevard, Hester Street, Timothy Drive and the Catalina Street/Farallon Drive intersection area such as pedestrian lighting, bus shelters/seating, bicycle lanes, crosswalk markings, and public art.
As a result of the study, staff from the Community Development Department, Engineering and Transportation Department, and the Public Works Department are working to assess available resources and a feasible timeline to implement recommendations from the study. In order to obtain essential input and buy-in from stakeholders, an Industrial Area Working Group will be convened in January 2014. The group will consist of key stakeholders such as Kaiser Permanente, Lit San Leandro, industrial area property owners and businesses and the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce. Together, they will provide input and help prioritize the study recommendations. Staff will update the City Council on the recommendations in February 2014.