By Keith Burbank

Crime at the MacArthur BART station may fall once the evolving transit-oriented development is complete, at least that’s what the developer, BRIDGE Housing and the City of Oakland are saying.

“It should increase the security around there significantly,” said Patrick Lane, development manager, City of Oakland, adding that it’s kind of dark there currently. The new housing and commercial space planned for the ground floor will put more eyes on the street.

BRIDGE Housing is bringing 624 housing units to what’s being called MacArthur Station. One hundred and eight of those units will be affordable. The developer is also building a 478-car parking garage, and 42,000 square feet of commercial space. Originally, there were 602 surface parking spaces at the station.

“Once we get the first phase completed, we’ll really start to see things change,” said Joseph Forbes McCarthy, senior project manager, BRIDGE Housing. The parking garage is expected to open this summer, and the first phase of housing is under construction on a portion of the station’s original parking lot.

“This station is a major transit node,” McCarthy said. More people walk and bike at the station than any other station except those in San Francisco. So far this year, nearly 650,000 people have entered the station, while nearly the same amount exited. During 2012 and 2013, the number entering and exiting was about 2.7 million.

The new development will likely increase the number of riders at the station each day by 400 to 600 people. Currently, the ridership is at or above 9,000 people per day. That’s up from 7,000 to 7,500 users per day in 2006.

Perhaps the site’s activity is already reducing crime. Last year, there were 1,320 calls to BART police for service at the station, down from 1,403 the year before. So far this year, BART police have logged 375 calls for service through the end of April. On average, that is 1,125 calls annually.

“Not all the time” does she feel safe, said a woman interviewed at the station who declined to give her name. In contrast, Debra Mason, a Bay Point resident and shuttle rider, said never has anyone at the station bothered her.

Fortunately, during the past 28 months, BART police have reported no arson, homicides or rapes. This year, however, there have been two robberies, 27 thefts, three stolen vehicles, five felony arrests, and eight misdemeanor arrests, police report.

In addition to more eyes on the street, McCarthy said cameras will be installed along the road fronting the residential buildings and the area will be lit better than before. Also, the development resulted in the demolition of two hotels west of the new parking garage. The hotels were known for illicit activity.

But McCarthy also said even at night many people are cycling through the area, an indication there’s already a measure of safety. The entire private investment in the project, once it’s complete, is estimated to be more than $400 million, which may be conservative as construction costs increase over time. Depending on the market, completion of MacArthur Station may take until 2020.

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