downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — planningcommission

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.


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.