downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Mid-May in the DTO: Hello shuttle, buh-bye Shorenstein

May 14, 2010

Last week saw the first dry First Friday of 2010, though it was pretty chilly after the sun set. Like the rest of Oakland, Downtown shines best when drenched in sun, and it seems the rainy season has finally ended. If you’re working downtown, living downtown, or planning to hang out downtown, here’s what you need to know in mid-May.

Downtown Oakland’s second-largest property owner, Shorenstein Properties, has put its four-million-square-foot office and retail portfolio on the market. The properties include the City Center shops; Oakland’s third-largest and second-tallest building, 1111 Broadway; and an agreement to complete construction of a new high-rise at 11th and Jefferson. Though Shorenstein is a local company and a long-time investor, new energy and ambition could improve the City Center office district.

To link Oakland’s disparate office markets and transit hubs, the City of Oakland has set a date for the launch of its new shuttle serving Broadway. On Monday Jun 21, commuters can catch a free ride from Uptown all the way to Jack London Square every fifteen minutes, from 7am to 7pm. Downtown is geographically quite large for a downtown of a mid-sized city, and it’s just not a nice walk from a Midtown lounge to a Jack London Square restaurant, so many expect the shuttle to help unite different retail  nodes, over time. If the shuttle can secure additional funding, its hours can be lengthened to serve dining, but for now it’s great for commuters and Jack London Square restaurants, which suffered mightily when the City’s last Broadway shuttle ended operation in 2002.

Far from the beaten First Friday track, Jack London District’s Swarm Gallery opens a new exhibit this Second Friday, featuring photography and wood sculpture. The Mercury20 photography gallery is now open at its new location on 25th St near Broadway. Today is the deadline for Alameda County artist to submit work for ProArts Gallery’s juried annual, Bay Area Currents 2010.

The Uptown neighborhood continues to add residents and businesses at a rapid clip. City Homestead reports several new restaurants coming to the district, and recently the Planning Commission gave a new bar permission to operate at 17th and Telegraph. Oakland will spend Redevelopment funds to brighten BART’s lonely alleyway. With artsy lighting joining our rightful sunshine, it’s the season for hanging out in downtown Oaktown.