downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — office

The DTO will rise again

January 9, 2009

The big event in downtown Oakland this week, of course, was the destructive aftermath of a protest against BART police killing an unarmed, restrained man. Alerted by Google, I fled to Rockridge and followed the events via television, phone and Internet. A terrible tragedy, to be sure, but at least the DTO looks great from a helicopter!

Fortunately, we can all do something to make a difference. What better way to help downtown recover than to fund window repairs by patronizing vandalized businesses? Living in the O compiles a list of victims for your dining, shopping, and grooming pleasure.

City Homestead offers a perspective of the riot from Westlake, and her experience being touched by the Oscar Grant killing. At FutureOakland, I blog that the OPD failed to protect downtown residents and should investigate its crowd control tactics. CounterPunch publishes an account of the protest that sympathizes and attempts to justify the vandals’ anger by asserting racial division, but other bloggers point out that the radical elements appeared to hail from Berkeley and San Francisco.

Recently, Oakland developer Hal Ellis passed away. As the original builder of City Center, one of the region’s largest job centers, he helped revitalize downtown Oakland in the 1970s. In the last few years, his Jack London Square Partners have begun transforming the foot of Broadway into another major office district, this time anchored by gourmet retail. But just as the DTO will rise from Wednesday’s ashes thanks to efforts of pioneers in the mold of Mr. Ellis, Jack London has risen from the dead and will visit his eponymous square tomorrow (Saturday Jan 10 2009) on the occasion of his 133 birthday. The history walk begins at Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon at the end of Webster, at noon.

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Uptown excitement

October 24, 2008

The Trib’s Night Owl, Angela Woodall, reveals details and dates of Ozumo‘s venture in the DTO, on the smoking-hot corner of Broadway and Grand. Ozumo and Pican, who signed leases months ago but did not begin work until recently, will share the intersection with Luka’s, the Franklin Square Wine Bar, newly-glam Vo’s, and next year, Bakesale Betty.

The original Uptown investment that sparked the district’s revitalization, The Uptown Apartments, celebrated the first residents and the broader community by opening a new Oakland park last night. The park, built and maintained by Forest City but operating as a city park, will soon be home to Remember Them, a colossal bronze monument a friend called “Mt. Rushmore for liberals.” Check out the park before it’s overwhelmed by “art.”

The Trib also writes about the Fox Theater, which has received tens of millions in donations and is now going to reopen as a fully-restore, full-scale theater, a far cry from “The Ruins” plan developer Phil Tagami floated to get the city interested in its restoration, which promised a usable building on the cheap. The School for the Arts is planning to move in at the end of November, so the building will appear occupied and revitalized at that point.

All the talk about the city’s budget over the last week explains why many neighborhoods are working to provide their own services and not rely on the city. Before the recess, the City Council approved several new Business Improvement Districts, including three downtown, two of these in Uptown (Uptown, which includes the Lake Merritt office district, and Koreatown, which includes part of Uptown and several blocks to the North). The Uptown bid is currently looking to hire security guards for the district. Much of the controversy before Tuesday’s vote focused on cuts to the Cultural Arts and Marketing Department, and the Oakland Convention and Visitor’s Bureau was mostly defunded. Next week, the OCVB will propose a hotel BID (PDF) to fund its activities in the future.

In other downtown news, the Barbary Lane retirement home in the historic Lake Merritt Hotel opened for long-term residents. I’m not sure whether the restaurant overlooking the Lake will be again open to the public.