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Economy

Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley to Get a Makeover

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Caitlin Esch/KQED

An empty lot in Berkeley, at the corner of Telegraph and Haste.

Berkeley's iconic counterculture avenue is about to undergo some changes. Merchants and city leaders are meeting Thursday night to brainstorm how to infuse the Telegraph Avenue vibe with more commercial success, while street vendors say they intend to guard its funky charm.

There are two empty lots at Telegraph Avenue and Haste Street, and a handful of vacant storefronts. Nearby, a 23-year-old homeless man, who goes by Purple, says he hangs here with his friends and his dog, Socks, everyday.
 
"This is definitely the place where I’ve bumped into the most interesting, incredibly talented, artistic individuals ever in my life--I’ve met sitting on the sidewalk right here," he said.
 
But Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates says in 2011, sales tax revenues along Telegraph were about half what they were in 1990. He says the area needs stores that appeal to Cal students.
 
"And a lot of them are not used to independent stores, it’s interesting," Bates said. "They want to call out the brands that they know."
 
Other ideas on the table include bringing in nightclubs and entertainment.
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