OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Oakland’s Uptown District has been a petri dish for transformation, turning areas struggling with blight into a re-surged community that’s now recognized as one of the nation’s 10 greatest neighborhoods.
This week, the non-profit American Planning Association named the Uptown as one of this year’s exemplary neighborhoods that add value to communities and foster economic growth and jobs.
The recognition may come as no surprise to residents who have seen Uptown’s dramatic shift over the last 15 years, thanks to underutilized lots and buildings transformed into a cluster of hip art galleries, restaurants and businesses within a walkable neighborhood that’s home to monthly cultural events like Art Murmur First Fridays.
Uptown’s rebirth began with help from the former Oakland Redevelopment Agency, which created both public and private partnerships for the Uptown Area Mixed Use Project. The group cleaned up graffiti and enhanced the neighborhood, which lead the renovation and reopening of the famed-landmark Fox Theater in 2009.
San Francisco’s tech boom is also providing the new energy as companies and workers look for affordable space.
City officials have noted the Uptown Mixed Use Project, which includes 745 units of market rate and affordable housing and a 25,000 square-foot public park, as the focal point of the neighborhood.
Oakland crime also seems to be improving. The city had a remarkably peaceful summer, with its longest murder-free stretch since the late 1990s and a dramatic drop in homicide and other violent crime.
Robberies are down 37 percent and home break-ins are down 31 percent, according to Police Chief Sean Whent, who credits more officers, more cooperation from the community, and Operation Ceasefire, the program that focuses police efforts on the most violent offenders.
Check out which other neighborhoods made this year’s Great Places in America list.