downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Façade Watch: Historic restoration along Thirteenth

February 28, 2008

Running from Broadway to Lake Merritt, downtown Oakland’s Thirteenth Street has many personalities. The block from Broadway to Franklin, home to the landmark Tribune Tower and one of downtown’s two usable taxi stands, includes a popular nightclub, a cafe, restaurants, and a large vertical parking structure disguised as a nondescript office building. From Webster to Harrison and beyond, Asian and other small businesses occupy subsidized housing towers and Art Deco storefronts. Serving as the transition from Chinatown to SOBO, 13th has recently become home to three beautifully restored mid-rise buildings: The Mash Building at Broadway, the former Will Rogers Hotel at Franklin, and the Golden Bridge Lofts at Harrison. All three combine restored historic facades with contemporary, feminine color schemes. Photos and descriptions after the break.

The Mash Building

Downtown developer Mo Mashhoon (whose previous projects include the restored Victorian commercial block across San Pablo from the Uptown complex) purchased this decaying office building (once home to Beauty Town and a diner), renovated the structure, and is now selling the office floors as commercial condos. He created a new façade in blue and white with burgundy accents along the roofline and storefronts. The finishing touch was architectural lighting, bringing more than a little panache to City Center.

The Will Rogers Hotel

This century-old residential hotel was closed after a fire in 2002, and declared a public nuisance after squatters were evicted later that year. While I have heard nothing since 2004 about possible future uses for this building, a charming, French-inspired yellow and blue façade upgrade has graced the upper floors of this still-closed hotel.

Golden Bridge Lofts

One of three office-to-residential conversions of historic buildings from Brog Properties, the former Golden Bridge Beverage Company HQ was transformed from an abandoned Class C office building to twenty homes, under Oakland’s Live/Work Ordinance. As the building is completed, a delicate sea-foam and crème color scheme highlights the Beaux Arts detailing of the five-story structure.

1 comment

1 Becks { 03.02.08 at 12:31 am }

Since I walk down 13th street several times per week, I’ve definitely noticed and appreciated all of these changes. Downtown Oakland seems to become more beautiful every day.