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Meditating on downtown Hayward

You’d think Brangie was in town the way downtown Hayward was swooning over San Francisco Chronicle architecture critic John King last week.

King, not to be confused with the carefully coifed CNN guy of the same name, was making the rounds on Thursday, talking to merchants and pedestrians of all sorts. Literary-minded customers and staffers at The Book Shop on B Street were positively giddy about the visit and are waiting to see what the writer has to say in his Tuesday column — apparently it’ll have something to do with downtown Hayward’s redevelopment progress.

“I think he perceived that we have not been as successful — yet — as we want to be,” said one customer who got caught by King while perusing books.

When the architecture critics at our competitor across the Bay weigh in, they weigh in deeply. Story has it that King’s predecessor, Allan Temko, called the 11-story Hayward City Center Building a “toaster” and the name stuck. Unfortunately for its detractors, the building, vacant for nearly 15 years, has stuck too.

Changes in downtown Hayward have come slowly and not without significant debate. It’s been a while since King wrote about it and well over a decade since architect Dan Solomon’s vision for a livelier and more livable downtown Hayward was featured in Peter Katz’s book “New Urbanism: Toward an Architecture of Community.”

Planners had big visions then. A new city hall and downtown condos were built, the new Albertsons plaza has brought some shoppers back downtown and a new 12-screen cinema complex, despite delays and some cutbacks, is on its way.

For those who have been watching downtown Hayward’s changes: Remember what you hoped or expected to see a decade ago? How does that match up to what you’re seeing now?

  • monica

    These are some of changes that I’ve noted: sidewalks, remodeling of buildings, playground, B St. left turn, Longs, buffalo bill’s patio area, farmers market, Thursday night street parties, pet store, main street bakery, shark shack, neumanli’s, dance studios, kumbalas, pot clubs, and albertsons. I know there’s more but that’s all for now. I’m looking forward to peet’s coffee and tea and disappointed that cost plus is a no go.