downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — office

No redevelopment, just a good time

March 4, 2011

Once again it is the First Friday of the month, and despite threats to the Redevelopment funding that has been at least partly responsible for downtown’s resurgence, there is no shortage of new business and optimism about the direction of the DTO. For your partying pleasure, I offer an edited guide to what’s new and happening this (hopefully) sunny March weekend.

Uptown’s newest retailer, the somewhat controversial upscale sex shop Feelmore510, gets in on the First Friday action with a display of erotic photography, and across the street on Telegraph, Uptown’s newest watering hole, Bar Dogwood, offers an artsy atmosphere with nods to taxidermy. The New Parkway is exploring an Uptown venue – if you like it, be sure to offer your input!

Over in Old Oakland, Levende East has expanded its hours and offerings, with brunch on Sundays and a First Friday reception featuring the drawings of local favorite Obi Kauffman. Newish gallery Chaparral City brings fine art to 9th Street with a painting and photography show. Jack London Square’s Swarm Gallery on Sunday will host an open house of the work of artists in their studios, expanding the DTO’s artiness to the normally-slow weekend.

With new surface parking lots downtown formally nixed by the Planning Commission, Oaklanders can look forward to more productive development in the central core. The Kaiser Center has submitted a bid for the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, which could be a new job center and lead to spin-off companies selling innovative technology.

In restaurant news, SOBO’s Disco Volante is getting great buzz for its eclectic yet affordable menu, while Flora is moving forward with the next-door bar and restaurant, positioned to be more affordable and casual than the Art Deco mothership.

And today’s headline event, Uptown’s Art Murmur, features numerous galleries as well as a fun atmosphere. Highlights include a retrospective of 60 years of printmaking from California College of the Arts, an art show inspired by female anatomy at Warehouse 416, and the Great Wall’s interactive projection at the intersection of West Grand and Broadway.

And if you’re willing to venture outside of the DTO, don’t forget about the White Elephant Sale this weekend – but be warned, apparently shopping trips to Fruitvale are newly controversial.

Though the snow snafu has made many wary of forecasts, I will venture a prediction – tonight’s Art Murmur will be fun and dry! See you in Uptown – I’ll be the guy without an umbrella.

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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.

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