Fremont's plans for growth to be 'strategically urban' leave some residents concerned

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- All week ABC7 News has been focusing on Fremont and the city's efforts to find solutions to Build a Better Bay Area

BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: Fremont Town Hall

With land still available to build housing, tech campuses and industrial developments, some Fremont residents expressed concern about too much urbanization and how it could change some of its historic districts. The city labels its future as "strategically urban."

There is construction underway all over Fremont, which concerns some residents who attended the ABC7 Town Hall meeting on Monday. ABC7 News' Phil Matier read one of the questions submitted.

"We talk about a lot of special districts in the area. How are we going to preserve them?" Matier asked a panel of elected council members and city staff.

Irvington is one of those special districts, which dates back to the Gold Rush era and was later incorporated into Fremont. It retains an Old West feel at its crossroads, known as Five Corners.

BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: Can you grow up and live in Fremont?

Fremont's community development director says Fremont's future is to be strategically urban with a focus on new housing near transit, such as the Warm Springs BART station.

"The more suburban parts of Fremont don't need to change dramatically over time," said Dan Schoenholz. "They'll change some over time. There'll be some new development, but really the bulk of development will be focused on these key locations."

People who live and work in Irvington say there is a need for more housing, but the kind of housing going up ends to be multi-family units, and they bemoan the fact that it's changing the character of their community.

Midori Hamamoto and Candice Napier work at Tangles Salon in the heart of Irvington.

"You're losing the feeling of your neighborhood and being able to talk to each other," said Midori Hamamoto. "Everything is just so fast paced."

BUILDING A BETTER BAY AREA: Fremont's housing solutions

"A family store and restaurants and all those things have been demolished," noted Candice Napier. "They're building all that high-density housing where there's no sense of community."

Yes, urbanization is happening across Fremont. But residents of the Irvington and Niles and Centerville districts will be watching closely.

Go here for the latest stories on ABC7's initiative to Build a Better Bay Area in Fremont.
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