New district banners, 6/6, Ashby and Adeline
A new banner in the Lorin District highlights the area’s concentration of antiques shops and art galleries. Photo: Kaia Diringer
A new banner in the Lorin District highlights the area’s concentration of antiques shops and art galleries. Photo: Kaia Diringer

A number of colorful new street banners have appeared in Berkeley’s Adeline-Ashby and Sacramento Street neighborhoods. They are the result of a city-funded effort to help discrete commercial districts brand themselves and promote what they see as their distinct attributes.

The initiative involved UC Berkeley students interviewing local merchants and Berkeley marketing company Radiant Brands working with property owners in the two areas to help crystalize ideas around the branding and the design for the banners.

“We engaged with stakeholders and held a series of meetings,” said Michael Caplan, Economic Development Manager for the City of Berkeley.

New district banners, 1/6, Sacramento and Julia
A banner at Sacramento and Julia streets focuses on the environment. Photo: Kaia Diringer

In the Adeline-Ashby area some of the themes that were identified included architecture — in particular the distinctive corner building which housed the former Addie’s Pizza Pie restaurant, as well as diversity, and food — not least now that the area has its own Farmers Market. One red-and -white banner highlights the concentration of arts and antiques stores at the intersection on Adeline and Ashby.

Caplan said the Sacramento Street banners were inspired by the changing nature of the area spurred by the arrival of Bio-Fuel Oasis on the north-west corner of Ashby and Sacramento, and HTR Remodeling at 2952 Sacramento Street.

Not all the local property and business owners could agree on the message they wanted to convey, however. According to Caplan, there was much discussion about what to call the neighborhood whose dual hubs are Ashby BART and the Adeline-Ashby intersection.

New district banners, 3/6, Sacramento & Russell
A Sacramento St. banner: one of a new crop helping brand different Berkeley areas. Photo: Kaia Diringer

He said there was a strong sentiment that the area should not be defined by its major thoroughfares, but rather be called the Lorin District which is the historic name that originates from the old Lorin train station. Lorin was the last stop before Berkeley along the Berkeley Branch line of the Central Pacific (later, Southern Pacific) railway. The area was at one point the unincorporated town or settlement of Lorin, but, in the early 1900s, the residents elected to be annexed to the City of Berkeley.

The new banners join those that already exist in many of the city’s commercial district — including downtown, the Elmwood, North Shattuck and Solano Avenue — although those were largely funded by local merchants’ associations rather than central city funds.

Caplan said this new initiative is part of an effort to help south Berkeley.

“There’s a real interest in economic revitalization for this area,” he said. He cited many recent developments that he believes are signs of positive regeneration in the neighborhood, including the relatively new Ed Roberts Campus, the recent repaving of Ashby and Adeline, and the arrival of new shopfronts such as the Alchemy Café and the Firehouse Art Collective. Several new restaurants are slated for the area too, including a new leaseholder for Addie’s Pizza Pie restaurant. Local art gallery Expressions has also been working on a program to show artworks on vacant storefronts in the neighborhood.

Going forward, the hope, Caplan said, is that the branding used on the new banners will be used in other iterations such as holiday and seasonal campaigns.

Kaia Diringer is currently Berkeleyside’s photo intern. See more of her work on Flickr.

Alchemy Co-op Café brightens Berkeley strip in transition [07.17.12]
Berkeley’s Tuesday Farmers Market moving to Lorin District [06.07.12]
Open doors at Firehouse Bazaar create classic community [08.23.11]
The Ed Roberts campus is open for business [11.19.10]
Neighborhood revival: Kick-starting the Lorin District [04.27.10]

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...