Monday, April 23, 2007

Charrette: Miraflores Conceptual Land Plan

From Tom Butt, FAIA:


The Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency, Eden Housing, the Community Housing Development Corporation of North Richmond (CHDC) and consultant firm Design, Community & Environment (DC&E) are holding a public meeting (charrette) to talk with the community about the Miraflores Conceptual Land Plan and gather community input.

This meeting will be held Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., at the Booker T. Anderson Community Center at 960 South 47th Street, Richmond, CA 94804.

The charrette will consist of a large group presentation and discussion, as well as hands-on work in small groups, that includes:

♦ Introduction and overview of the project, conditions in the plan area today, and the desired development program for the site.
♦ Discussion of the opportunities and constraints on the site, including historic resources, Baxter Creek, noise, air quality, traffic and circulation. DC&E will facilitate a large-group discussion to solicit meaningful public input on these topics and articulate a clear community vision for the site.
♦ Presentation of three alternatives that address each topic on the site in a different way. These alternatives will form the basis of the small group work.
♦ Collaboration in small groups to create a preferred site plan based on one or more of the identified three alternatives. Small group facilitators will guide charrette participants using maps and game pieces, as well as drawing on and annotating the site map, to locate single-family housing, multi-family housing, new streets, a daylighted Baxter Creek, bicycle and pedestrian paths, historic elements, and other facilities.
♦ Large group discussion of each group’s findings and major points. A spokesperson from each group will report back to all workshop participants. DC&E will summarize the points of consistency and disagreement between the groups. From this discussion and summary, a preferred alternative will be distilled for the Resident Advisory Committee to review before environmental review begins.

For more information, contact Natalia Lawrence, Development Project Manager, Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency at 510 307-8180

This public meeting on the future development of the Miraflores project is significantly important because of critical issues relating to the restoration and preservation of Baxter Creek, preservation and interpretation of historic structures, proximity to the Richmond Greenway and the new, low cost housing it will provide. Anyone interested in creeks, trails, history, smart growth and housing should attend.

Miraflores is the name given to a cluster of former nurseries owned and operated by Japanese-American families from the early 20th Century until just last year when the property was acquired by the Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency for housing development. It is adjacent to the Richmond Greenway, which is connected by an abandoned railroad tunnel under I-80 to san Pablo Avenue and the Ohlone Greenway. It is a short walk to BART, making it fit the definition of transit oriented development.

The property, located near Wall Avenue across I-80 from Home Depot, is not only the last vestige of a once-thriving industry that spread along the Richmond-El Cerrito border, but it is arguably the last of the intact pre-WW II nurseries in California. Donna Graves, director of a statewide project funded by the California State Library, Preserving California's Japantowns, which is documenting historic resources in 43 pre-WWII Japanese American communities across California, notes: “This project has not found any other pre-war nurseries in California, despite the fact that floriculture was a major area of occupation and innovation for Japanese immigrants and their children throughout California. This makes the Sakai and Oishi properties even more unique and significant not just to Richmond's history, but at the state and national level.”

The Miraflores site is also bisected by Baxter Creek. Originating in underground springs beneath the El Cerrito and Richmond hills, Baxter Creek runs down three narrow watersheds through Canyon Trail, Poinsett, and Mira Vista Parks. Also known as "Bishop Creek" and "Stege Creek," the entire watercourse flowed freely above ground in earlier times. The three branches join just south of Angelo's Delicatessen near the corner of San Pablo and MacDonald Aves. in Richmond. From there, the single stream flows below ground across the Richmond flats, above ground through Booker T. Anderson, Jr., Park, and finally into San Francisco Bay via Stege Marsh. Today, Baxter Creek remains above ground for only about one tenth of its length: quarter-mile sections in Canyon Trail, Poinsett, and Mira Vista Parks; a third-mile section on the east and west sides of San Pablo Ave. near MacDonald Ave.; and another third-mile section in Richmond's Booker T. Anderson, Jr., Park.

For more information: Natalia Lawrence, Development Project Manager, Richmond Community Redevelopment Agency at 510 307-8180

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