BART Plaza Conceptual Site Plan: Community Ideas and Feedback

In May 2021, the Development Team (Holliday Development, Related California, and Satellite Affordable Housing Associates) presented their initial vision, design principles, and conceptual site plan to the El Cerrito City Council and the community. Link to the full presentation here.

We are excited about the start of this process and the potential for this project to create and help catalyze the growth of a more walkable, amenity-filled, delightful downtown zone for our city. We are eager to participate in subsequent design sessions with the development team and BART and look forward to partnering on the design development process.

Below is the conceptual site plan provided by the development team – we have added our high level ideas, questions, and feedback to it, and summarize them briefly here. The team has not shared more detailed design information yet, and we look forward to reviewing architectural and landscape designs as they progress.

Our thoughts on the initial conceptual design plan

(if you can’t see the image above well, you can download a PDF here).

Site Design and Programming – Key issues:

  • Plaza for the people – There is broad community support for the creation of a large, sunny plaza space (vs. several smaller nooks) adjacent to shops + cafes, and potentially adjacent to the new park as well. THis would support the retail with outdoor seating and provide space for live music, outdoor art, and other gathering opportunities at different sizes and scales. Consider the optimal location for this, ideally taking advantage of the views, sightlines, and daylight throughout the year.
  • Pedestrian Flow / Circulation – How does the Plaza location (noted above) relate to and help inform the location / flow of foot traffic from BART to the Plaza and into the community? Consider foot traffic support of retail both within the courtyard and on Fairmont, and flow into the existing EC Plaza and surrounding community.
  • Bike Parking – Ensure adequate bike parking capacity and security, including for e-bikes, cargo bikes, etc. to meet the needs of both new and existing cyclists (more residents will access the station this way once car parking is reduced).
  • Playground – Think about playground location – consider locating it closer to family housing units and retail and off the traffic corridor. Make it convenient to families both in the development and visitors to the retail / plaza areas.
  • Traffic Safety / Walkability – Discourage through traffic for vehicles on the new Oak St. Should it be for bus access only? Perhaps it also can include taxi, rideshare, and private drop-off and pick-up? The key is we want to encourage and facilitate safe pedestrian and bike usage to the maximum extent possible.

Other thoughts regarding issues influencing the design:

  • Library – We hope to see discussions soon regarding the optimal future location for the Library, considering space needs, access modes, funding sources / amount / timing. What are the tradeoffs between using space for a library versus additional commercial space or homes?
  • Replacement Parking – Please see our prior post here regarding parking requirements, strategies, and access methods. Ideally, the access needs of local BART riders can be met with a mix of strategies that allow replacement parking to be minimized or eliminated, making more room for retail, dining, homes, and open space.

We’ll keep you posted on future discussions and design development, and we invite your thoughts and participation as well. The more community input we gather, the more valuable our feedback will be to the City, BART, and the development team. Feel free to comment below or contact us at plazaforthepeople@gmail.com.

3 thoughts on “BART Plaza Conceptual Site Plan: Community Ideas and Feedback

  1. I am opposed to locating any kind of library at this development site. Not only will the parking be very problematic, but the noise will be as bad as the present location. But most of all, my reason is that I am opposed to locating libraries in any kind of multi-use building because if a fire starts anywhere, it could spread to the library and consume the entire library collection, most of which is made of flammable paper.

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