Downtown Berkeley parklet to create new community space for residents

Related Posts

A new parklet opened Wednesday on Oxford Street between Center Street and Oxford Lane in the hopes that it will create a new community space for Berkeley residents.

The parklet was built in front of businesses to provide outdoor seating to customers and pedestrians. The artwork features many Bay Area insignias such as the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline and the UC Berkeley Golden Bear.

Soheyl Modarressi — president of Oxford Development Group L.P. that built the structure in collaboration with Carl Sciortino Construction and SDC/Structural Engineering, and which owns the building adjacent to the parklet — proposed the project more than a year ago in order to bring more people into the area.

“We wanted to make Oxford a destination point (and) enhance the visual aspect of Oxford Street,” Modarressi said. “We wanted a design that matches the area — a bridge between the new museum and the new development of the south part of the parklet.”

Modarressi said the entire structure was handmade by the designer and was “structurally sound” to protect those who are in the space. He added that he hopes it can be used by campus students as well as city residents.

Mark Short, a designer for Carl Sciortino Construction, took charge of the parklet design after Modarressi approached him for the project. Short said he wanted to have the parklet reflect the aesthetics of campus and its “European style.”

Short designed and casted the structure largely using his own supplies. The cement section of the structure was made with a single pour into a custom mold -— which can be used for future parklet designs.

There are two pre-existing parklets — one located in front of Saul’s Delicatessen and the other in front of Cheese Board Pizza — both on Shattuck Avenue. According to Short, another focus in the design of the parklet was to increase foot traffic in the area.

“What I’ve noticed is that every business with a parklet, doubles,” Short said. “Having people in front of your restaurant enjoying themselves brings in more people.”

Several customers and business owners, such as East Bay Spice Company general manager Jared Berry, have expressed optimism about the parklet’s ability to bring in more customers.

“I think (the parklet) is great for a space this small. It helps to have an open patio — a nice place to sit and relax,” Berry said.

Berry added that he has already seen the parklet filled with customers from restaurants such as The Sunny Side Cafe. He predicted that the space might provide a “block party vibe” for future game days.

Hensley said there are plans to build as many as 10 parklets in the city, at which point the city would review their benefits.

Contact Vera Esail at [email protected].