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Fruitvale Village: A Model for Transit-Oriented Development

Fruitvale Village: A Model for Transit-Oriented Development

Nested in California’s East Oakland is a culturally vibrant neighborhood known as Fruitvale. In 1999 the city began construction on a transit-oriented development project called Fruitvale Village, which was completed in 2004. This successful urban planning initiative exemplifies smart-growth, as it brings transit, commercial and residential sectors into one small area while preserving the unique character

Nested in California’s East Oakland is a culturally vibrant neighborhood known as Fruitvale. In 1999 the city began construction on a transit-oriented development project called Fruitvale Village, which was completed in 2004. This successful urban planning initiative exemplifies smart-growth, as it brings transit, commercial and residential sectors into one small area while preserving the unique character of the surrounding neighborhood.

Fruitvale village entrance

The BART station is located right in the stop for the Oakland Airport and the beautiful Lake Merritt in the city’s downtown district. The transit village has been a revitalization project for the low-income, inner city area. However, it has successfully integrated the residents of Fruitvale by creating a strong sense of community and cultural identity.

The idea for this project came from the Unity Council, a local nonprofit that focuses on community development by building the social and economic vitality of the Fruitvale district.

Fruitvale public market Oakland

The Village is made up of the following:

  • 220 mixed-income units;
  • 45,000 sq. ft. of neighborhood retail;
  • 114,000 sq. ft. of community services;
  • 150-car parking garage.

The retail, which includes restaurants, stores, and resident services are located beneath the mixed-income units. Bike parking is ample, bus lines run along the outer corridor and a large market is located directly across the street.

The urban design reflects the predominantly Latin and African-American culture of Fruitvale, while effective land use planning makes it pedestrian and family-friendly.

Plans for Phase 2 (outlined in green in image below) are underway. It will focus on residential development while emphasizing green building and unique architecture. The goal is to expand on what is currently there while continuing to build the strong sense of community that already exists; further uniting the residential component with the retail and commercial sectors.

Fruitvale Village

Fruitvale Village has been a highly successful project that reflects the principles of smart growth. I only hope that Phase 2 will be developed in the near future without facing too many challenges.

What successful examples of transit-oriented development exist in your neighborhood?

Credits: Photographs by Robert Poole. Data linked to sources.

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Rob Poole graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Anthropology and a minor in City and Regional Planning. He grew up in San Diego, but now resides in San Francisco. He currently works at a non-profit organization in San Francisco that advocates f...

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