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January 16, 2015

Comments

Jennifer

I agree that Broadway definitely has a more 'get in', 'get out' type of vibe, except perhaps for people living (walking) in the direct vicinity or who are chatting with the other locals. That comes with the history and location of the street itself. It is not an insular area like Burlingame Avenue. There is a reason why the Burlingame Avenue Mall scheme from the late 1960s was even conceived, and that is because of the unique layout of those two or three blocks and that the primary street can easily be avoided in a car. That is not the case with Broadway, a primary street on a major freeway exit, leading to the Easton Additions, while doubling as a service oriented shopping district since the early 1900s. Personally, although it may be less "glamourous" it is that service orientation, that has been it best asset. I think allowing more restaurants (28 is already a lot, no?) may turn out to be a very temporary fix to help people fill spaces and pay rents, but unless there is some interesting retail there, too, like what is offered at Potpourri, nobody will stick around longer than it takes to pay the bill. Burlingame Avenue's plethora of restaurants in a more insular environment has made the area a destination, and I think there are many people coming to dine from outside of the area, otherwise the restaurants would probably struggle. I've noticed some of the remaining independent retailers in the Burlingame Avenue area have adjusted their hours to starting closer to noon, and going well into the evening, just to attract the "strollers" who want to linger after having a meal.

For Broadway, however, creating a sense of place via a public space for people to hang out would be a challenge because no space currently exists that isn't part of a parking lot; I'm betting people would resist any loss of parking. Some people do hang out in those bulb out areas, and maybe some of them could sport another bench or two, no idea.

A thought might be a "parklette" or two made up of parking spaces creating a space out of nothing (as an experiment), but losing even a couple of spots on any given part of the street (I think) would be met with upset, unless, perhaps, a restriping effort in any of the parking lots could "find" a few of spaces to make up for it. Also, if it becomes a homeless destination, that comes with other issues and may defeat the purpose.

The closest I've seen to a successful hang-out area is what Earthbeam has created on their corner: benches, tables, plants, not large, but indeed, people do hang around and chat. The businesses on the corners definitely have more opportunities to create ad hoc 'open space'. If given a bench, people stop to read the newspapers and drink coffee and snacks.

Gerald Weisl

Broadway is not exactly a blighted area.
We have one building owned by a fellow who would prefer to keep it empty unless he can entrap some tenants into paying higher-than-market rental rates. We have a couple of other vacancies on the street, but for the most part, Broadway's store-fronts are occupied.
A couple of landlords have been the prime forces pushing for a change in zoning.

It's not clear if more food establishments will benefit the business district.

I would ask The City to change a number of one-hour parking spaces on Broadway to 24-Minute meters, simply to help assure the retail businesses remain as viable as possible.

Jennifer

Discovered this store in downtown Redwood City:
"Pomegranate Seeds" 2301 Broadway, RC. A gift shop with lots of handmade, unique items. Keep in mind, this establishment is one of the very few retail stores in the theatre district, that is overwhelmingly restaurants, some night clubs and the big cinemaplex, of course.

When I commented that I'd love a store like that in Burlingame, the owner lamented that she'd looked in the vicinity of Burlingame Avenue and knew immediately the rents would be out of the question. I have no idea if she looked on Broadway, but this is the type of destination store that cannot be easily replicated online. Great service and perfect for unique gifts, and then why not eat there in the area, as well? I may be wrong, but I think unusual jewelry and housewares/decor, pretty much make up the last hopeful retail opportunities for brick and mortars because these items lend themselves to seeing and touching in person. Everything else can be purchased online, if the destination area is not worth the trip. In this case, I purchased two beautiful hand appliquéd dishtowels with custom patterns of animals, a bargain at $16 a piece and I'd go back again for more.

BMW

We live near Broadway and frequent the establishments there as much as we can. I think a parklet is easily a good idea at Preston's esp in late summer and nobody would mind losing those 2 spaces in front in exchange for more seating. That's exactly the type of space parklets are made for - like those in North Beach in front of the two big coffee shops.

Speaking of coffee, the placement of Starbucks in the middle of the block and with 'outdoor' seating withdrawn from the public realm does not help. I can't remember a Starbucks in a Main Street (ie non-mall) environment so nondescript and not at all inviting for people watching. Think of Peets and Starbucks locations up and down the peninsula. Imagine for example Starbucks in a corner space instead, like the empty space across from Village Host. It would change the dynamics of Broadway significantly. I don't know though what would coax Starbucks to come out of its current home. I can only imagine the possibilities.

The Nitty Gritty

It will take a coordinated clean-up/remodel by the many landlords on this street to make it more appealing not only for Burlingamers, but also for residents of nearby towns.

Do you really know the landlords on Broadway Avenue?

Some want something for nothing...others have regular delusions of grandeur and need to get healthy...others have Cave Man style customer service skills.

It's no wonder that Broadway is known as "gritty".

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