Safeway Plans for redeveloping the Rockridge Shopping Center

Old wine in a new bottle?
Monday, January 3, 2011

Two years ago, Safeway proposed initial plans for rebuilding the Rockridge Shopping Center.  This fifteen acre strip mall at the corner of Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue is North Oakland's largest commercial center.  (The O/E Bay Bridge East shopping center at 40th Street and San Pablo Avenue is larger, but half of it is in Emeryville.)  Those plans were widely criticized for an unimaginative suburban design.

In July of 2010, Safeway came back with a new development team and a new design.  The new design has about the same square-footage as the old one, but incorporates an internal "shopping street" fronted by two-story structures, giving it a somewhat more urban feel.  Here are some of Safeway's architectural drawings on the site plan.

While it improves over the earlier design, the new plan still leaves a lot to be desired.  Representatives of five North Oakland neighborhood groups: RCPC, Urbanists for a Livable Rockridge Temescal Area (ULTRA), Friends and Neighbors of College Avenue (FANS), Standing Together for A Neighborhood Development (STAND) and Piedmont Avenue Neighborhood Improvement League (PANIL) got together and developed a critique of Safeway's proposal.

However, it's one thing to throw stones, it's another thing to provide a constructive alternative.  The five groups decided to work on coming up with alternative designs that would fit better into Rockridge's urban environment.  Four alternatives were developed -- two by ULTRA and two by RCPC members.  The four plans will be presented at RCPC's January Town Hall meeting, Thursday, January 20th at 7:30 PM at the Rockridge branch library.

Safeway's plans will soon be presented to the Design Review Committee of the Oakland Planning Commission, probably at its January 26th meeting.  The five neighborhood groups plan to present their alternative designs as well.  Here's the full report the groups submitted to the Planning Commission.  Rockridge residents are encouraged to attend and voice their opinions about what works best for the Rockridge community.