Dublin developed its core, with all of the big box stores, while planning decisions were made in Hayward and Oakland by Alameda County staff and elected supervisors. It has struggled to find a “downtown” because it hasn’t had one.
The City Council and city staff hope the preferred vision for downtown that was approved last month will change it dramatically. The elements of the plan have the potential to do just that. The vision targets the two shopping centers bounded by Regional Street, Dublin Boulevard, Amador Valley Boulevard and Amador Plaza Road.
It’s a bold plan that centers on three key elements:
1. Extending Golden Gate from Dublin Boulevard to Amador Valley Boulevard and creating three new east-west streets to divide the huge parcel into manageable city blocks. Three new north-south streets will run from Dublin Boulevard. Blocks are designed so parking structures can be located behind businesses.
2. Creating a one-acre city square off the extended Golden Gate Avenue in what’s now the parking lot serving Hobby Lobby and Target. This will be the gathering place for the community and the site of the farmer’s market and other events.
3. Develop a downtown character with a mixture of land uses—retail, residential, restaurant and office. The plan allows for up to 6-story buildings that could be 75 feet tall.
The approved vision is the result of several years of work and public outreach and lays the foundation for the serious work for landowners. The extension of Golden Gate is targeted for the next five years. With the more intense residential uses now starting to surround the West Dublin BART station, the street extension will create a walkable neighborhood with easy access to the trains.
The council approved several incentives to encourage new development within the city center area. These include sales tax reimbursements, a major discount on sewage connection fees for restaurants, hotel tax rebate, a grant program for façade improvement and assistance to small business.
Now that a plan, with incentives, is in place landowners and developers can start working on buildings that fit within the vision. It’s easy to imagine the town square becoming the gathering place for Dublin residents and people from the surrounding communities.
Danville, Pleasanton and Livermore started with established downtowns—railroads playing historic roles in each—while San Ramon and Dublin had no such advantages. The Bishop Ranch owners, Sunset Development, followed a bold vision with the City Center project that opened a year ago. It’s now proposing 4,500 high-density units in the parking lots near the City Center. Unlike Dublin, San Ramon had the advantage of a single landowner (Sunset) controlling all of the parcels.
Dublin has positioned itself to follow suit and work with private landowners to create an inviting public/private space.