During the 2015-2016 NBDIP process, Oakley was awarded a $30,000 grant to design and establish cost estimates for Oakley’s Madison Road Neighborhood Business District (NBD) Eastern Gateway. This project could be considered the final right-of-way implementation project on a plan that has been 34 years in the making: the 1982 Oakley Square Neighborhood Business District Urban Design Plan. Project 10 of this 1982 plan called for “Improvements to the area around the pedestrian viaducts and the railroad overpass”.
In 1995 the City began the efforts to update the 1982 plan, and on August 1, 2000 the Oakley Urban Renewal Plan was officially updated. The plans show an early rendering of Oakley’s Madison Road NBD Eastern Gateway and the #1 Project in the right-of-way Improvements section is the “Oakley Business District Gateway”, intended to “Create a gateway improvement at the eastern portion of the business district by landscaping existing right-ofway, including the existing traffic island, and by improving the existing pedestrian viaducts over Madison Road”.
In 2004 efforts began to implement the 2000 plan. In 2005 the Oakley Community Council applied for and received a $30,000 NBDIP grant to develop a plan with cost estimates for 3 major capital improvements to Oakley’s NBD which are generally referred to as “Oakley Streetscape”. The 3 major capital projects which were called for in the City Planning Department’s “2000 Oakley Business District Urban Renewal Plan” are as follows:
PHASE 1, Western Gateway: “Traffic and Pedestrian Improvements” in and around Oakley Square
Received 600k for Phase 1 (CNBDU)
The intersection was reconfigured. 4 rds – Madison, Markbreit, Allston, and Isabella
Esplanade grew by 50% with a space for live music and events. IN fact, we are in the 11th year of OAH. In summer months we bring out bands, kids entertainment, food, and most importantly, beer. We have turned the event into a profit generating event in which we as a council can give back to the community.
PHASE 2, Madison Road Corridor: “Streetscape and Safety improvements” to the Madison Road Business District Corridor
Received a $400,000 grant for Phase 2 (CNBDU). The City subsequently asked if the OBDAC would relinquish the $400,000 to Kennedy Heights which was working to establish its cultural arts center.
OBDAC agreed to release funds to Kennedy Heights. The City subsequently issued bonds via Oakley’s new TIF District that increased the amount of funding for Phase 2 to $750,000 which allowed new sidewalks for the entire Business District that the previous $400,000 NBDIP grant would not have funded. Unfortunately, due to significant construction delays and challenges (largely tied to old Streetcar tracks underneath Madison Road) Phase 1 and 2 were not completed until the end of 2011.
PHASE 3, Eastern Gateway: “Pedestrian Bridge Gateway”
$30,000 Planning grant awarded in 2015 for “Oakley Madison Road NBD Eastern Gateway” Design
After 5 years of construction (2007-2011) and pressure on neighborhood funding to CNBDU, NSP, etc. the OBDAC decided to wait a few years before requesting funding to develop a plan for the “Eastern Gateway”. With develop nearing completion on the areas identified in the “June, 2001 Oakley North Urban Renewal Plan” and the completion of the Kennedy Connector, the OBDAC believed 2015 was the appropriate time to begin planning for design. Since the 2015 NBDIP grant was awarded, the OBDAC has worked closely with City DOTE and DCED to assist in defining the scope, community priorities, and how to implement the Eastern Gateway in stages.