Fifteen Years in the Making, Oakland’s MacArthur Transit Village Breaks Ground

    Oakland, Calif.—It has been a very, very long time coming, but work has finally gotten underway on MacArthur Transit Village, a massive, mixed-use transit-oriented development that will ultimately deliver 624 multifamily residences centered on a Bay Area Rapid Transit station and additional future transportation outlets in Oakland, Calif. BRIDGE Housing and McGrath properties are the developers behind the public-private project, the first phase of which will cost $51 million to complete.

    The concept for MacArthur Transit Village, an urban infill development that will occupy a nearly eight-acre blighted parcel in the North Oakland area, originated in the mid-1990s and took on many different shapes over that period. “We went through a whole lot of stages on this,” Walter Miles, chairperson of the MacArthur BART Citizen’s Planning Committee, tells MHN. Miles has been involved in the project practically from the very beginning. “At the time, we had no idea how long the process would take. We were looking at 1999 for a groundbreaking, but little did we know we would frequently take three steps forward and four steps backward.” One Request for Qualifications years ago yielded just one response.

    Practically every segment of Oakland, from the residents on up, played a role in shaping the development. “Everybody had to be involved,” Miles says. “Community groups, block groups, transportation groups and all levels of city government had to be involved, and that’s a challenge when you have all these people working together.”

    While ideas and concepts have continually changed, the original goal has remained the same: the creation of a high-density, mixed-use transit-oriented community. After years of planning, a final design emerged and the road was paved to move forward. The project will yield five buildings containing 516 market-rate units and 108 affordable housing units; 42,000 square feet of commercial and retail space; 5,000 square feet of space for community use; and a 478-space parking facility to serve BART transit users and guests.

    McLarand Vasquez Emsiek & Partners is the master plan architect for MacArthur Transit Village, which is part of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighborhood Development Pilot Program and will qualify for a LEED Gold rating.

    Phase I of the endeavor calls for the demolition of buildings that were once home to two motel properties, site infrastructure and the construction of the BART garage on a former parking lot. Construction of the first residential segment—the 90-unit MacArthur Transit Village Family Apartments affordable housing community—will commence in 2012. The remaining segments of the project will get underway in a series of phases between 2014 and 2021.

    “Infill opportunities like this one don’t come along very often,” Cynthia Parker, president and CEO of BRIDGE Housing, tells MHN. “This development is at the heart of the BART system, and eventually hundreds of people who live here will be able to commute via train, shuttle and bus to jobs in Oakland, San Francisco and Emeryville.”

    Miles adds that, because MacArthur Transit Village is a TOD, it will attract a diverse group of residents and visitors. “You need all kinds of people to make a community, and this is a location where you can go anywhere because it’s a transportation hub,” he notes. “When all of the transportation is ther,e the development is definitely going to make a heck of an impact on the city—actually, it’s started already. There are nice new restaurants and businesses coming in, and you can see people walking now. The activity has started moving; the neighborhood has started changing.”

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