Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Downtown Berkeley Market Retail Study

Prepared for the Downtown Berkeley Association, the report determines what combination of factors would best to improve of vitality of retail businesses in Downtown Berkeley. The report’s key findings are:

1) The current boundaries of Downtown Berkeley are too large to define as one area. By identifying sub-areas within the downtown, retail strategies can be tailed to deal with the unique retail challenges of each smaller area.
2) Shattuck Avenue is not the only pedestrian spine for retail activity. The width of the street and level of traffic does not make it an ideal pedestrian environment on every block. The narrow side streets perpendicular to Shattuck Avenue would provide a much better retail environment.
3) Perpendicular streets will play a key role in future retail activity—in particular Addison, Center, Allston, all which connect the downtown to UC Berkeley.
4) Downtown Berkeley’s lack of a comprehensive parking program results in the public’s lack of awareness to the extent and availability of parking.
5) Downtown Berkeley retail serves a diverse market of visitors, Berkeley residents, UC Berkeley and Berkeley High School students, and art performance attendees. There is not enough buying power from the peripheral residential uses to support the neighborhood serving uses in downtown.
6) Overall sales tax revenue is decline in Downtown Berkeley, while sales tax revenue from restaurants is increasing.
7) Office uses create a significant amount of sales tax revenue through business to business sales.
8) Permits and city regulations are barriers of entry to prospect Downtown retailers.

Following these findings, here are some of the report’s key recommendations (see report for all recommendations):

1) Strengthen synergies that already exist in downtown
2) Focus resources in three main sub-areas
3) Develop a comprehensive parking strategy
4) Provide clean and safe streets
5) Encourage new cultural uses and UC Berkeley cultural facilities in the downtown to strength downtown Berkeley’s position as a regional destination
6) Support non-UC Berkeley office uses in downtown
7) Support the physical connection between the UC Berkeley Campus and Downtown Berkeley by leveraging UC Investment
8) Consider subsidizing the rent of unique stores that are highly desirable to have in the downtown . . .

Downtown Berkeley Association and Strategic Economics, “Downtown Berkeley Retail Market Study” (July 11 2007), available at (last visited February 2008).

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