City council members voted Thursday to allow city staff to seek professional services to help compose a vision for Newark's commercial region near NewPark Mall.
The city will now be seeking Request for Proposals (RFPs) from firms interested in consulting with the city on how to develop a Greater NewPark Master Plan, which will help build a proposal on how to make the region into more of a central retail hub for south Alameda County.
Community Development Director Terrence Grindall has previously said the NewPark Mall area has seen some decline in business since trends have moved toward outdoor shopping plazas with big-box stores.
And city staff has indicated that the vision for the area is to have a major activity point such as a convention center, sports center or event center, as well as retail areas that give people a place to “work, shop, live, eat, recreate and experience culture.”
In other words, they are seeking to build a completely new "21st century downtown."
The greater NewPark area includes NewPark Mall and its other nearby shopping plazas, which include , the near and the Mowry Plaza, which houses TJ Maxx and .
Since the council approved the vote to start accepting proposals, once the RFP period is over, the council can start inviting firms to make formal presentations of their ideas for the area at future council meetings.
The city will be seeking a "consultant team" that would include retail and real estate experts, land planners, architects, engineers and economists, according to the council's meeting agenda packet.
City staff has indicated that the Greater NewPark Master Plan would be implemented with the city’s General Plan update, which is currently under way, and that the estimated cost for the consultant services for the NewPark master plan could amount up to approximately $80,000.