In 2002, there was only potential in the empty lots near the old Fox Theater in downtown Oakland to envision a lively neighborhood that supports retail, entertainment and the arts, right next to the19th Street BART station. It could become Uptown and help to fulfill Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown’s goal to bring in 10,000 new residents.
While at the Livable Communities Initiative, housed at the East Bay Community Foundation from 1999-2003, current IEE Executive Director Edward Church leveraged key expertise to help make it happen. Jens Hillmer, City of Oakland Urban Economic Coordinator, comments that “the positive, focused attitude Ed and his staff brought to the controversial infill project was buttressed by careful analysis, and the targeting of really rather modest amounts of funds to solve problems made a big difference.” This project represents the ability to carry urban development projects from vision to success. Over ten years ago, Ed contributed vital pieces to this project, which now, as Hillmer says, “leads the revitalization of Oakland itself, demonstrating that it is possible for many other neighborhoods.”
The City’s assessment was underscored in 2014 by the selection of Uptown as one of the Great Places in America, by the American Planning Association.