downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Posts from — October 2007

Facade Watch: Uptown Update

October 26, 2007

The first recepient of facade improvement funds in East Oakland is La Estrellita restaurant and tequila bar on East 12th and Fifth Ave. The facade improvement program, where the city helps pay for facade upgrades from redevelopment funds, was recently expanded to redevelopment areas outside of downtown, because of its great success here in the DTO. This is a good time to update readers on some recent facade upgrades and opening restaurants.

  • In Uptown, a historic facade has been transplanted onto the second floor of a building in the 1600 block of Telegraph. Forest City’s first apartment building, opening in January, has unveiled a pleasingly modernist face. The landmark Fox Theater’s improvement is well underway, with the historic front tiles cleaned and repointed.
  • At 1300 Broadway, a century-old highrise that has been undergoing renovation for many years, the building’s new pink, blue and beige color scheme is nicely complemented with the installation of architectural lighting.
  • It appears the Kaiser Center’s facade is being restored to its original silver luster.

Also Uptown, the restaurant Flora, in the stunning Floral Depot building, is set to open in two weeks. The Uptown club, which came under new ownership as first reported here, hosts their first new show Nov. 2. In Old Oakland, the Washington Inn has finally given up on Twist, and will soon host a new restaurant, named Seison.

Update: has an article about new restaurants Uptown and along Auto Row.

Next week, I’m going to try again with the DTO map. It got a lot of hits but no comments! However, wayfinding downtown is important, and so I’m going to present another map, alongside older maps. In the meantime, I urge interested readers to download the Land Use and Transportation Element of Oakland’s General Plan, and read the part about downtown.


Shrink-wrap update

October 8, 2007

With thousands of homes under construction and nearing completion in downtown Oakland, some people are questioning the timing of the development boom. The city lists almost 2200 units under construction. Will today’s short-term debt crisis cause new developments to fail to meet projections, perhaps souring investors on the DTO forever? A Better Oakland recently discussed a San Francisco Business Times article about a delayed project, the Olson Company’s CityWalk (252 condos with a 2500sf Starbucks). With that large complex perhaps getting shrink-wrapped soon, I thought it might be time for a shrink-wrap update.

When construction projects run into problems or are otherwise delayed, they are wrapped in plastic to keep out the elements. This looks like shrink-wrap. While this measure may be taken at CityWalk, there are two DTO projects whose wrapping has just come off. They are:

Jackson Courtyard, a 45-unit development at 14th and Jackson, experienced rain damage a few years ago as a result of poor construction timing and management. Perhaps under new ownership, construction has restarted. The building is refreshingly modernist, IMHO.

Thomas Berkley Square, an 88-unit condo building on top of a county-leased parking structure, at San Pablo and Thomas Berkley (20th) Street, also had its wrapping removed recently. Construction probably halted and resumed to better match the Forest City apartment project across the street, which opens in January. Certainly those condos will be more desirable when the Uptown area isn’t torn to pieces.

Though one projected has slowed for unknown reasons, others are restarting. Certainly it is premature to forecast a downtown housing glut.