The DTO steps up its game
April 17, 2009
Wednesday night, the Oakland Planning Commission passed an updated zoning law for downtown Oakland, after more than a year of discussion and debate. The new law aims to spur more development and business success in the center of the East Bay, while respecting neighborhood character and promoting public transit use. While a few dozen people debated downtown’s future, a block away a few thousand people were experiencing downtown’s present. And it’s pretty cool.
At least six spots are set to open in the coming months: a wine bar near City Center, the reopening of Umi Toshi on Clay in Old Oakland, Mimosa Champagne Bar in the ever-expanding Uptown district, Farley’s East coffeeshop and ERA dance club on Grand near Broadway, and Geisha dance club on 14th St in SOBO (UPDATE: Councilmember Kaplan reports that Bakesale Betty has received permits and is under construction). This bounty of entertainment retail is shared with other neighborhoods as well, but downtown is beginning to take its place as the rightful star of Oakland’s show.
Jack London Square, in the midst of an enormous expansion, is turning up the heat this weekend, with a boat show and the announcement of a series of Friday night outdoor dance classes starting on May 1, led by Linden Street Dance Studio. Next week, the Ellington, a high-rise condo building that fell victim to its developer’s bankruptcy, will reopen under new ownership for sales. And speaking of foreclosed but completed condominium complexes, Dwell in Old Oakland is expected to be sold to a capable real estate firm very soon.
This week, all week, Uptown was thronged with crowds attending multiple concerts at the Fox, the Uptown, and the Paramount, as well as simply enjoying the revitalized neighborhood. I stopped by AVE and Flora with a visiting relative on Tuesday evening, and both were packed with folks that did not look like they were here for Green Day. It is hard to remember that only two years ago the entire district was vacant. Despite all this obvious success, KALW is going to have a radio show discussing whether or not the 10k program was a good thing. Seems like old habits die hard.