City staff is inviting Newark residents to take part in the process of building a visionary plan to revamp the NewPark Mall area.
A community meeting will be held on Wednesday night about the project, which dubbed the .
Community Development Director Terrence Grindall said city staff and consultants with Oakland-based City Design Collective, an urban design firm, will conduct the meeting in hopes to gather opinions from Newark residents.
“The primary purpose is just to listen to what the community thinks,” Grindall said.
The Greater NewPark Master Plan will serve as a document that outlines how the region can be revised to make it more of a central retail hub for southern Alameda County.
No specific plans have been drafted, but participants of the meeting can expect to be asked general questions about concepts the city and consultants plan to explore, Grindall said.
City staff has indicated that the vision for the area is for it to include 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.”
The greater NewPark area includes NewPark Mall and neighboring shopping plazas, which include , the near and the Mowry Plaza, which houses TJ Maxx and .
City council recently authorized staff to seek consultants to assist them in the second phase of updating the Newark General Plan, a policy document that acts as a guideline for county and city leaders when it comes to decision-making for future development.
In the first phase of updating the Newark General Plan, a team of graduate students and a professor from the California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo drafted a Preferred Growth Scenario, which sketches Newark’s growth through 2040.
In that document, it is proposed to transform the NewPark Mall region into a “town center” that would include more retailers and office buildings in the unused portions of the mall’s parking area, multi-family dwellings, and a possible entertainment center or amphitheater. The existing mall building would be preserved.
In an email to residents interested in Newark’s planning and development department, it is stated that “the departure of major retailers, changes in shopping patterns, and deferred maintenance have drained energy from this area and cast a shadow on its future.”
The proposal within the General Plan is fairly broad, which is one reason why Grindall said the city is seeking to build a separate plan that forms the vision for the commercial areas surrounding the mall.
“It needs to be more detailed than the general plan. There’s also an urgency to it,” said Grindall, who added that the city wants to move forward with building a concept for the area that would assist them in collaborating with NewPark Mall’s property owners so that they would invest in the area.
Consultants who draft the Greater NewPark Master Plan are also knowledgeable of economics and retail statistics, which is not the type of expertise that can be found in a General Plan process, Grindall said. But, he added, the master plan would be implemented through the General Plan.
Pizza and refreshments will be available during the meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. at the , 6800 Mowry Ave.
How would you like to see the greater NewPark Mall region to develop? Do you think Newark needs a downtown-type area? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.