Broadway Finally Coming Alive Bit by Bit

May 27, 2013

Food, Streets

wc morseI’ve lived near the corner of Broadway and 45th St for 16 years and have been downright dejected over its blight, abandon and lack of much energy, except for the students at Oakland Tech. While I’ve watched and helped been a part of the Temescal Miracle along Telegraph, Broadway has been the ugly step-child, downtrodden and left to fend for itself for years. Back in 20011, I thought I might help spark a revival by locating Bites Off Broadway, a mobile food pod, at the lovely front of Oakland Tech, but the school district squashed my dreams by refusing a permit and even sending me a letter accusing me of “trespassing.” Jane Brunner, Councilmember in the District for years, never called a public meeting about the blight from 38th-51st St. The businesses who have managed to hold on, Import Tile and Bay Appliances, are to be congratulated and thanks to Kick Box Oakland and New Style Motherlode (hip-hop dances classes) and more for investing in the hood.

Now things are looking up–way up! The biggest overall improvement is that starting this August, Broadway will get a “road diet” and bike lanes will be installed from College all the way to 38th St, linking up with the current lanes that stop at 27th St and Grand on the north side. Lots more folks will ride along this route and the result will be excellent for business, especially for the new hot spots described below. These lanes will look very similar to the ones along MacArthur Ave.

Blue Bottle Coffee  will be moving into the historic W.C. Morse building at 44th St and there are plans for a pilates studio and some other business in the gorgeous brick building next door. I wish it were going to be a live music venue (something Piedmont, Temescal and Rockridge sorely need) but I kinda like the idea of all this synergy in these few blocks around health and fitness classes. Owners are Kidson Land Company from SF who bought the buildings a while back and did what looks like a high quality restoration.


Nearby is the new Sherwin Williams paint store with a fancy makeover on the inside. I met the friendly manager and when I asked why the outside paint job was so dull, he said it had to do with the City of Oakland approved colors. I can’t believe that really was the best color they could come up with but hey, at least the store is occupied. Next up is the stunning and welcome news that Trueburger is moving into the large space that was Anderson Carpets at 41st and Broadway. Meanwhile a fitness gym called CrossFit Oakland has taken the back space.

Further down Broadway at 40th St, the Temescal Produce Market’s second location closed after what seemed a short stint. It was a vast improvement on the liquor store that had occupied that corner for years and now the owners are using this kinda cool idea called Spotmojo to ask for input on what should go in. I think the comments are revealing as some folks would like the produce store back.



On the opposite end of Broadway near 51st St, I have a friend working for the developer who has bought the property from Pleasant Valley toward College (includes the Poppy Fabric store) and plans are for senior housing including memory care rentals. They are also trying to buy the most blighted property in the area from 49th St to Pleasant Valley/51st that now features dilapidated buildings and car storage. The owner is elderly and makes his money off the hideous billboards that blight the whole intersection. Some headway has even been made in trying to buy that huge swath of property and when complete, along with the new Safeway development at Pleasant Valley, our neighborhood will finally enjoy some welcome changes. I just hope I’m still around to enjoy it by the time it happens.


, , , , , , ,

About Karen Hester

Karen Hester is a community activist and events coordinator who lives in North Oakland in Temescal Creek Cohousing. Her event productions website is She lives and breathes the fight to stop more billboards in Oakland and started

View all posts by Karen Hester

5 Responses to “Broadway Finally Coming Alive Bit by Bit”

  1. Dan Woloz Says:

    I think you mean Art Tile, not Import


  2. Rachel Says:

    I don’t know how I received a link to your blog, but I am glad I have!

    I have been working on reshaping the new Rockridge Mall at Broadway and Pleasant Valley, advocating placemaking and activity along the sidewalk.

    The North Rockridge residents seem to have thrown everybody else under the bus on this project. The City of Oakland is letting Safeway do crazy things.

    Let me know what you think:


    • Karen Hester
      hestekaren Says:

      well I worked with ULTRA for years and there are very smart, thoughtful folks in that group who came up with the “alternative” design but it’s not a group that really has built a movement around it and I’m SUPER disappointed that the current design won’t have housing but will supposedly be built for adding housing at a later time. Safeway is adamant now though to just try and get the present plans built which is a shame because the design is pretty much juts a spiffed up suburban mall with surface parking and stores in the back. If you wanna write a guest blog about this please do! and send photos


  3. Tim Says:

    It’s about time something is changing here. This area is centrally located and surrounded by expensive real estate and lots of people. It’s amazing it’s stayed as abandoned as it has been.


Leave a Reply