downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — construction

This week, downtown

April 24, 2009

Though doom and gloom surround the economy on many fronts, downtown Oakland is only getting more happening. But it’s not all new ventures. A traveler to Downtown Oakland this week sees new businesses, but also transformed businesses, rescued businesses and long-lived businesses.

As I mentioned in an update to last week’s blog, Bakesale Betty has received all necessary permits and is building their new bakery in Uptown, which will hopefully open this summer. Also under construction are two spots in Old Oakland near City Center – a wine bar and a sushi restaurant, both on Clay near 11th St. Though it’s true that Old Oakland’s designer denim boutique closed after two years in business, nearby retailers Verse, Mignonne, and Fiveten Studio are still going strong. Check out Mignonne’s mailing list for their Saturday sales and vintage trunk shows.

One of downtown’s two (or three) completed but empty condo developments opens this evening with a party featuring Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and wannabe Mayor Don Perata. I’m sure Jean Quan will be there too, though Robert Bobb is probably tied up in Detroit. The Ellington is a 134-unit high-rise near Jack London Square. Meanwhile, Old Oakland’s Dwell, built by now bankrupt AF Evans, has received multiple offers and a new owner is expected to be announced soon. I understand that the Jackson St project with construction defects has been renovated, but if anyone knows what’s going there, please let us know.

The former Maxwell’s Restaurant and Lounge on 13th St is now Maxwell’s Soundstage, thanks to new operator Dwayne Wiggins of Toni Tone Tony and Alicia Keyes fame. He also operated the coffeeshop in the Alice Arts Center until it closed in 2007. Look for respected singers to draw a sophisticated urban crowd, though so far there’s only been one show. Maxwell’s is near another soon to open club in the area southeast of Broadway. Perhaps other districts are starting to eclipse Uptown’s light; a local architect makes an argument for Jack London Square in a design interview.

On Sunday, the Museum of Children’s Art, a wonderful children’s art center in Old Oakland, celebrates its 20th birthday! From noon to five pm on April 26th children and their parents can enjoy refreshments, entertainment, and hands-on arts and crafts including miniature golf! Year-long memberships will be available at an anniversary discount, too. In addition to retailers, nightlife, and urban housing, there are some great resources for kids in the DTO as well. MOChA is at 538 9th St in the Swan’s Market courtyard.

 It’s a week of things to get excited about in the DTO, though the city may screw that all up with an Uptown parking lot right in the middle of Telegraph! Check out ABO for the details, and enjoy your downtown weekend!


DTO reading file: waiting for the Fox

January 23, 2009

Oscar Grant’s death at the hands of a BART police officer, violent protests downtown, and OPD controversies hog the headlines, but there is much more to learn from the news this week. With so much recent discussion about public safety strategies, Oaklanders are increasingly aware of today’s tactics. But Oaklander Online gives us a glimpse of policing in the past, gleaned from her great-grandfather’s diary of walking the beat in 1918′s DTO.

Though transportation giant American President Lines is shipping hundreds of jobs from downtown Oakland to Mesa AZ, Shorenstein paused construction on 601 City Center, and several struggling construction projects finally went into default, other forms of investment are finding the DTO hospitable. Levende East secured permission to serve alcohol with a limited menu at a new cafe in Old Oakland, and it was only one of three such hearings at the Planning Commission Wednesday night (the other permits were granted for restaurants in the Laurel and Eastlake Districts).

Souley Vegan has left 13th St because of code compliance issues, but the owner tells me that she’s hoping to reopen in a better-equipped space downtown this summer. Around the corner, the Trib’s Night Owl reminds us of continuing developments at DeLauer’s Super Newsstand.

Folks continue to discover the DTO’s new restaurants, and even Montclarions are vowing to come down here moreOakland Goods reviews Ozumo, BixChix visit Miss Pearl’s, Living in the O reviews Dazz Thai and other Thai outlets, and the Single Guy Chef likes the Red Door Cafe.

There are only 12 days until the Fox explodes onto Telegraph, but the week’s news shows there’s much more to the DTO’s growing vibrancy.