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Sidewald and Streetscape Improvement Project
Revitalizes Historic Downtown Hayward

By Bob Bauman, city engineer, city of Hayward
Joubin Pakpour, P.E., project manager, Berryman & Henigar

The sidewalk layout provides a clear path of travel for pedestrians. Seat walls, fencing, low shrubs and groundcovers allow for a sense of separation between the street traffic and sidewalk space. These elements have been strategically placed to avoid conflicts with passing pedestrians.

An innovative sidewalk and streetscape improvement project is playing a pivotal role in the resurgence of the city of Hayward's historic downtown. Hayward, population 144,000, is located about 25 miles southeast of San Francisco.

The residents in Hayward have seen their downtown deteriorate due to businesses relocating to peripheral malls, buildings going vacant due to earthquake damage, and the streetscape falling into disrepair. The city has begun an ambitious streetscape rehabilitation project to revitalize their downtown, encourage new investments, and create a truly pedestrian-oriented place. Callander Associates Landscape Architecture, Inc. was hired by the city to prepare an overall streetscape master plan for the nine-block downtown central business district. One of the principal goals of the $2.8 million project, in which the city's Downtown Redevelopment Agency is providing funding, is to revitalize a four-block section on B Street, the city's main downtown thoroughfare.

One of the most popular restaurants in the area, Buffalo Bills, has already taken advantage of the expanded sidewalk area by developing an outdoor seating area. Using the same fencing as the renovated streetscape, the outdoor dining area not only provides a seating alternative, but much needed vitality on the street.

Seating areas were strategically placed to complement adjacent businesses, crosswalk locations and bus stops. The Dumor bench (model 58-80) provided the right historic character to complement the design theme and the durability the city required. Custom ornamental metal fencing, with art deco lines, are now located between seating areas and the street to provide a sense of safety and comfort for pedestrians. Also, the Lemar bus shelters have been modified to match the detailing of the ornamental fence.

The design approach taken by Callander Associates first sought to discover what was unique about Hayward. Understanding this character and incorporating it into the design was essential in creating a streetscape and a downtown that was unique and representative of Hayward. This analysis unearthed the large quantity of art deco-style architecture within the downtown core. This art deco theme was then translated into the character and details of the master plan.

Poured-in-place concrete columns were strategically placed to highlight mid-block crossings and pedestrian gathering nodes. Precast masonry units by Napa Valley Cast Stone accent the top and bottom of the columns and draw from the form and character of the adjacent building facades. Custom ornamental metal fencing reflects the patterns established in the sidewalk pavement and the art deco style of B Street's architecture

Ornamental metal fencing also helps to define seating areas and provide definition between the street traffic and pedestrian zones. The form and material of the custom fencing relates to the manufactured site furnishings, including the Dumor benches and Urban Accessories tree grates.

Many improvements have been made which will benefit residents when they leave their homes. Proposed sidewalks, kiosks, bus shelters and other streetscape elements have all been designed with art deco character and lines found directly in the adjacent buildings. Other key features of the design include gathering spaces at the mid-block crossings to invite pedestrians, promote street Hayward crossings, slow vehicles and provide for safe seating. New street trees have been carefully blended with a small portion of the existing mature street trees to mitigate the impact of total removal. A signage program has also been developed to help identify and encourage use of municipal parking lots as well as identification of the downtown core from adjacent streets. Conceptual design for the streetscape was completed in 2001 and construction drawings are currently being prepared. The first phase of construction began in the summer of 2003. The art deco theme was translated into the paving and other streetscape details.

Preliminary design graphics illustrate proposed pedestrian seating areas associated with mid-block crossings. The seating areas provide an expanded sidewalk with benches and opportunities for adjacent restaurants to allow for outdoor seating during the warm summer months. Colored concrete paving and a distinct art deco paving pattern accentuate these areas from the rest of the sidewalk improvements.

The widened sidewalks and street trees make B Street a pleasant place to shop. The benches are strategically placed to encourage socialization and to avoid conflicts with passing pedestrians. Chinese flame trees (Koelreuteria bipinnata) add shade to the seating areas and further define the pedestrian space.

The city and Berryman & Henigar worked closely in developing and implementing a series of improvement projects.

Sidewalk and streetscape improvements included drainage improvements, removal and replacement of trees, replacement of curbs and gutters, installation of bus shelters, and a computerized informational kiosk, along with abandoning sidewalk cellar access throughout Hayward. The original two downtown kiosks were very basic as they were only used for posting bulletins. The new four-sided kiosk has proven extremely popular. While three sides have space for bulletins, a fourth side has a touch screen and is connected via Wi-Fi to City Hall.

Seat walls also provide an excellent refuge for passing pedestrians. The seat wall face builds on the pattern established in the sidewalk pavement and custom metal fence. Decorative columns flank the seat wall and help to define the mid-block crossing location.

A public outreach program was formed to aid all parties involved during the redevelopment project. It involved constant communication with city officials and community leaders and also contacted businesses to keep all parties fully informed on construction activities to minimize the local economic impact. During the construction process, weekly meetings were held and fliers were distributed with the latest news and developments.

Grading is one of the engineering difficulties with a sidewalk replacement project that retains existing curbs and street pavements. To direct water away from buildings, while also addressing the roadway crown, trench drains were used where sidewalk areas expand. A decorative grate by Urban Accessories was used to complement the art deco character and to match the tree grates that were used, also from Urban Accessories.

Mid-block crossings are located on each block for pedestrian circulation. To increase pedestrian visibility, additional lighting is located at either end to highlight crosswalks and pedestrians to oncoming cars. Existing mature trees were selectively removed to increase the amount of sunlight on the street while some were retained to highlight special areas.

The various improvements have not only dramatically improved the aesthetics and ambiance of downtown Hayward, but in many instances, they have modernized the area's infrastructure. While some landscaping had previously been done, a series of Australian willows planted in the early 1970s were crowding out views of shop windows and the sap from the trees constantly dripped onto the sidewalks and nearby buildings. The solution was to remove the willows and plant large Chinese flame trees, which are more "sidewalk-friendly." The new trees were also planted further apart to allow for more window visibility. Ornamental street lighting was already in place, however, in an effort to add a bit of historic luster, 19th century-style globe lights were installed on top of the columns that accented a series of mid-block crosswalks.

Historic City Hall

When the last streetscape improvement was done in the 1970s, which added angled parking on B Street, Hayward excess water accumulated along the curbs and caused drainage problems. Another major improvement now in place is a series of new storm drain connections that include decorative grate drains. This now alleviates any accumulation of water along parking space curbs and gutters.

New City Hall

Many of the buildings along the street date back to the early 1920s. One of them, the Green Shutter Building, is being considered for historic status in California. Other businesses along B Street include the Medicine Chest, an old-time pharmacy; Buffalo Bill's, a recently opened brewery; an Ace Hardware store; and numerous "mom and pop" retail stores.

Downtown Post Office

Lastly, a valuable development of the program has been an increase in downtown businesses utilizing the city's facade improvement program, which consists primarily of painting and plastering. This has also contributed to sprucing up the area. A new nearby Albertson's complements the existing buildings downtown. While no economic study has been implemented yet to determine the exact impact, city officials expect that the multi-million dollar improvements program will help bring more business downtown.

Key elements Include

  • civil engineering design
  • construction phasing
  • construction plans, specifications and bid documents
  • construction support
  • cost estimating
  • master planning/infrastructure analysis
  • public financing

Editor's Note:

Bob Bauman is city engineer for the city of Hayward, Calif.

Joubin Pakpour, P.E., is a project manager with Berryman & Henigar, based in the firm's Pleasanton, Calif. office. Berryman & Henigar provides municipal management consulting, civil engineering, land surveying, public finance, building safety, asset management, and program and construction management to public agencies.

Callander Associates, Landscape Architecture, Inc., founded in 1973 by Peter Callander, is a privately owned landscape architecture and planning firm with offices located in San Mateo and Rancho Cordova, California.

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December 10, 2019, 7:00 pm PDT

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