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Downtown Revitalization

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Executive Summary
A. Key Findings
B. Recommended Plan
1. Marketing
2. Management
3. Streetscape
4. Municipal Parking
5. Gateways
6. Town Common and Walking Park
7. Facade Improvements
8. Funding Sources
9. Implementation Plan

September 01

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As with marketing, the management of this plan has two primary components. The first involves the redesign and redevelopment efforts, such as the following: seeking grants and other funding; and, serving as the liaison between the Town, the businesses and property owners. This would also include the various day to day management responsibilities such as initially overseeing festivals, promotions or other downtown events. While the Town of Oakland(7) would ultimately be responsible for implementing the plan, particularly the public improvements such as sidewalks, municipal parking and a proposed public green, cooperative efforts (including investments) are required of area businesses and property owners. In this manner the second component of management arises which includes maintaining the interest and involvement of the affected private sector, such as assisting business, property owners in securing matching funds (possibly through a challenge grant) in order to improve, redesign their properties.(8)

This second management component also includes a "self-help" clause in that downtown (commercial) property owners(9) should consider forming a marketing cooperative (an expanded role/mission for the Downtown Business Association). In essence, revitalization efforts for the downtown Oakland commercial district should include marketing the Town, its character and its potential. From a brokering perspective, the issue should not be that any one property is for sale or is vacant and why it is a "good deal", but rather that Oakland is a "good deal". To further facilitate tenant and targeted business acquisitions a marketing and retail recruitment package for the downtown is required. This package should include:

  • incorporating multiple properties (either vacant or for sale), which are available, into a single listing portfolio;

  • a summary of the sales potential and leakage analysis (developed as a component of this research) for the Oakland market area;

  • links to the Town's website and information (with visuals) of the proposed streetscape and downtown improvements; and,
  • promotional information about downtown activities and/or events.

Initially this cooperative would be responsible for brokering all vacant or "for sale" properties under one centralized entity (such as an area realtor). Property owners might consider establishing a voluntary rent moratorium in order to foster downtown tenant leasing and new business "start-ups." As the properties are re-tenanted and consumer activity is improved it becomes a logical transition to have the responsibility for overseeing festivals, promotions or other downtown events shift to this marketing cooperative. In this manner downtown properties are no longer being marketed, but rather downtown Sights, Sounds and Smells throughout the day and evening are being marketed.

7. At the public design workshop and in conversations with the Town Manager, consideration has been given to having the Town Recreation Department assume the day to day management responsibilities, however this has not been finalized.

8. Some of the property owners interviewed in this process indicated their willingness and desire to improve their properties (facade treatments, signage, etc.) and were looking for guidelines, themes, potential costs and any financial assistance available.

9. An emphasis is placed on owner-occupants and "home grown" entrepreneurs rather than real estate developers, in part, because commercial rent levels in Oakland are generally not high enough to justify significant new investment in the existing building inventory. Real estate developers generally seek a higher, and more timely, return on their investment, where an owner-occupant is likely to be more patient. Additionally, a real estate developer would look for a long term lease from prospective tenants in order to provide cash flow stability. As such, this would imply a more regional or national tenant base which, with some exception (such as Rite-Aid), is not likely for the Oakland downtown given building size, visibility and other locational factors. In developing a greater potential for such national tenants, Oakland would then diminish its small town quality which is considered to be one of its assets.



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