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CLIENT: BERRYMAN & HENIGAR
August 2004: Landscape Architect & Specifier News
An innovative sidewalk and streetscape improvement project is playing a pivotal role in the resurgence of the City of Hayward's historic downtown.
Hayward, population 144,000, is located about 25 miles southeast of San Francisco. One of the principal goals of the $2.8 million project (the City's Downtown Redevelopment Agency is providing funding) is to revitalize a four-block section on B Street, the City's main downtown thoroughfare.
Many of the buildings along the street date back to the early 1920s. One of them, the Green Shutter Building, is being considered for historic status in California. Other businesses housed along B Street include the Medicine Chest, an old-time pharmacy; Buffalo Bill's, a recently opened brewery; an Ace Hardware store; and numerous 'mom and pop' retail stores.
The City and Berryman & Henigar worked closely in developing and implementing a series of improvement projects. Key elements included:
Sidewalk and streetscape improvements included drainage improvements, removal/replacement of trees, replacement of curb and gutter, installation of bus shelters, and a computerized informational kiosk along with abandoning sidewalk cellar access throughout downtown Hayward.
One of the most important program elements was a public outreach program that involved constant communication with city officials and community leaders, and affected businesses to keep all parties fully informed on construction activities to minimize the local economic impact. During the construction process, weekly meetings were held and flyers distributed with the latest news and developments.
The various improvements have not only dramatically improved the aesthetics and ambiance of downtown Hayward, but in many instances, they have modernized the area's infrastructure. While some landscaping had been previously done, a series of Australian willows planted in the early 1970s were crowding out views of shop windows and the sap from the trees constantly dripped onto the sidewalks and nearby buildings. The solution was to remove the willows and plant large Chinese flame trees, which are more 'sidewalk-friendly.' The new trees were also planted further apart to allow for more window visibility. Ornamental street lighting was already in place but to add a bit of historic luster, 19th Century-style globe lights were installed on top of the columns that accented a series of mid-block crosswalks.
The original two downtown kiosks were very basic - they were just used for posting bulletins. The new four-sided kiosk has proven extremely popular. Three sides have space for bulletins. A fourth side has a touch screen and is connected via Wi-Fi to City Hall.
When the last streetscape improvement was done in the 1970s, which added angled parking on 'B' street, excess water accumulated along the curbs and caused drainage problems. Another major improvement now in place is a series of new storm drain connections that include decorative grate drains. This now alleviates any accumulation of water along parking space curbs and gutters.
Lastly, a value-added development of the program has been an increase in downtown businesses utilizing the City's fašade improvement program, which consists primarily of painting and plastering. This has also contributed to sprucing up the area.
A nearby new Albertson's super store complements the existing buildings downtown. While no economic study has been implemented yet to determine the exact impact, City officials expect that the multi-million dollar improvements program will help bring more business downtown.
Return to: 2004 Feature Stories