By Katie Nielsen

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Bay Area Rapid Transit officials have unveiled plans for a massive redevelopment project that it hopes will revitalize Oakland’s Chinatown neighborhood.

The agency plans to bulldoze one of its parking lots at the Lake Merritt Station and also raze the old Metropolitan Transportation Commission building to make way for a project that includes several hundred affordable housing units.

“519 new units of housing, 44% affordable,” said BART Board member Bevan Dufty. “You’re going to have non-profit space as well as commercial office space, and I think really bring some vibrancy around that station.”

Dufty hopes the project will also bring a steady stream of visitors to the area.

“It’s going to make it more vibrant and people from around the East Bay and hopefully all around the Bay Area are going to want to come and learn the history of Oakland Chinatown and really participate in all that’s going to happen there,” he told KPIX 5.

The BART Board voted unanimously last week to enter into a two-year exclusive negotiating agreement with an East Bay Asian development corporation and Strada Investment Group to work on the project.

“Our region needs more housing and we need more density around transit to support our system,” Dufty said.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf agrees.

“Letting people live and work on top of great public transit, like our BART system, is an excellent step in that direction,” she told KPIX 5.

But some BART passengers say they are concerned about the loss of parking near the station.

“You want people to use the public transportation system, and without the parking lot, I feel like it’s just not going to be convenient,” said BART rider Steven Atias. “I think it’s a bad idea.”

Fellow BART rider Deborah Lagutaris agrees.

“It also gives me the ability to drive my car here and take BART to where I need to go,” she said.

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