Fruitvale, one of seven community districts in the city of Oakland, California, is a low-income community that has faced significant economic stress for the past decade. The Fruitvale Transit Village project is the result of a broad-based partnership among public, private, and nonprofit organizations to revitalize a community using transit-oriented development. The planning effort behind the Fruitvale Transit Village represents an innovative strategy for using mass transit as a catalyst for revitalizing an urban community. While transit-oriented development has been successful in a growing number of affluent suburban locations, the Fruitvale Transit Village sets a precedent for such projects in lower-income, urban communities.
The origins of the project date from 1991, when the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) announced plans to construct a multi-story parking facility adjacent to the Fruitvale station. Although the community agreed that new parking was necessary, members of the community were concerned that the proposed structure would increase automobile traffic and pollution and further separate the Fruitvale neighborhood from the BART station.
Faced with this strong community opposition, BART withdrew its proposal and agreed to work with the local community through their “Unity Council”, on a development plan for the area. During the next several years, the Unity Council engaged local and national stakeholders in a comprehensive planning process that laid out the parameters of the Fruitvale Transit Village. The partnership successfully raised the funds necessary for a complete project including nearly $6 million from the Federal Transit Administration and nearly $100 thousand dollars from both the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Fruitvale Transit Village includes housing, retail, and commercial space. A public library, a child care facility, a pedestrian plaza, and other community services all surrounding the BART station. The project is expected to reduce traffic and pollution in and around Fruitvale because community residents now have access to a range of goods and services within easy walking distance of the transit station.
View the website at: http://www.unitycouncil.org/fruitvale-village/