New Day on Broadway

In Oak Park, the triangle is the shape of things to come

Back Web Only Aug 28, 2014 By Morris Newman

It’s hard not to notice the green shoots of revitalization sprouting from a group of unusual buildings in Oak Park. Located in the 30s on Broadway, the area is officially known as the Triangle District.

The blocks are triangular, due the sharp angle of intersecting streets. Triangular blocks are wonderful in terms of urban energy because they dictate the creation of three-sided buildings — the only kind that can fit on those awkward sites — and the result is a group of endearing “flatiron” buildings with sharp edges that stand out from their surroundings. In other words, it’s a good place to start the revival of an entire shopping destination.

About 10 years ago, the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency (since disbanded, alas!) identified the corner of 34th and Broadway as a potential “catalytic” site. In urban design terms, a catalytic project is one that creates enough excitement to inspire developers and out-of-the-ordinary store owners and restaurateurs to jump in and add their own distinctive notes. And under the watchful eye of the Oak Park Business Association, which dates from 2012 and succeeds the redevelopment agency as the not-for-profit developer, Broadway is coming back into flower.

“New businesses, new residents and visitors are discovering what the locals have known for years,” says Terence Johnson, executive director of the business association, which has hired new security for the area and created a street cleaning program. “This is a great little neighborhood.”

New construction is one indication of investor confidence: At 35th and Broadway, construction has started on a residential mixed-use complex, with commercial space on the street and rental units above, designed by Vrilakas Architects. Meanwhile, at 3rd Avenue and Broadway, developers have broken ground on the new 3rd Avenue Plaza. The Arbors, a residential building for seniors, opened in 2013.

Broadway has attracted some new tenants: Arthur Henry’s Supper Club and Ruby Roon at 34th and Broadway is a loving restoration of the historic Primo’s Swiss Club that formerly occupied the same site. For the fine-arts crowd, both the Brickhouse Art Gallery and Patris Gallery & Studio on 2nd Avenue have opened their doors. Along with Visions Window Covering, Patris is operating out of the repurposed former post office from 1915.

In a neighboring historic building at 35th and Broadway, the Oak Park Brewing Co., a microbrew pub specializing in British and Belgian ales, is soon to open.

Open space is necessary for a vital urban district. Accordingly, McClatchy Park is getting a $3-million renovation, which includes an expanded playground, tennis and basketball courts, and a skate park. A farmers market comes to the park on Saturdays, while a summer concert series starts in August.

One good time to visit the Triangle District: every second Thursday, when the Gather Neighborhood Street Fair takes place, continuing through October.

Meanwhile, for those oblivious souls who haven’t yet noticed the new day on Broadway, newly minted Triangle District logo banners are now fluttering across the district. Guess what shape they chose for a symbol?


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