downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

This week, downtown

April 24, 2009

Though doom and gloom surround the economy on many fronts, downtown Oakland is only getting more happening. But it’s not all new ventures. A traveler to Downtown Oakland this week sees new businesses, but also transformed businesses, rescued businesses and long-lived businesses.

As I mentioned in an update to last week’s blog, Bakesale Betty has received all necessary permits and is building their new bakery in Uptown, which will hopefully open this summer. Also under construction are two spots in Old Oakland near City Center – a wine bar and a sushi restaurant, both on Clay near 11th St. Though it’s true that Old Oakland’s designer denim boutique closed after two years in business, nearby retailers Verse, Mignonne, and Fiveten Studio are still going strong. Check out Mignonne’s mailing list for their Saturday sales and vintage trunk shows.

One of downtown’s two (or three) completed but empty condo developments opens this evening with a party featuring Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and wannabe Mayor Don Perata. I’m sure Jean Quan will be there too, though Robert Bobb is probably tied up in Detroit. The Ellington is a 134-unit high-rise near Jack London Square. Meanwhile, Old Oakland’s Dwell, built by now bankrupt AF Evans, has received multiple offers and a new owner is expected to be announced soon. I understand that the Jackson St project with construction defects has been renovated, but if anyone knows what’s going there, please let us know.

The former Maxwell’s Restaurant and Lounge on 13th St is now Maxwell’s Soundstage, thanks to new operator Dwayne Wiggins of Toni Tone Tony and Alicia Keyes fame. He also operated the coffeeshop in the Alice Arts Center until it closed in 2007. Look for respected singers to draw a sophisticated urban crowd, though so far there’s only been one show. Maxwell’s is near another soon to open club in the area southeast of Broadway. Perhaps other districts are starting to eclipse Uptown’s light; a local architect makes an argument for Jack London Square in a design interview.

On Sunday, the Museum of Children’s Art, a wonderful children’s art center in Old Oakland, celebrates its 20th birthday! From noon to five pm on April 26th children and their parents can enjoy refreshments, entertainment, and hands-on arts and crafts including miniature golf! Year-long memberships will be available at an anniversary discount, too. In addition to retailers, nightlife, and urban housing, there are some great resources for kids in the DTO as well. MOChA is at 538 9th St in the Swan’s Market courtyard.

 It’s a week of things to get excited about in the DTO, though the city may screw that all up with an Uptown parking lot right in the middle of Telegraph! Check out ABO for the details, and enjoy your downtown weekend!


1 Joanna { 04.24.09 at 8:07 pm }

Encuentro (wine bar at 2nd & Jackson) should open in June if all goes well.

I’ve also heard that there is someone set to open a restaurant in the Fourth Street Lofts building in the space that used to be home to Mono and prior to that, Cuckoo’s Nest. No confirmation on the latter or a corresponding name, but I did hear that it was someone local to the neighborhood.

I did see Jean Quan and her entourage at the Ellington party. She was taking photos of our ex-Mayor as he spoke. Three times – in different places – I heard her say, “that’s why I created that requirement”. I have no idea what the response was in regards to, but thought it was funny to hear it so many times.

I really must find a way to filter out what I hear…

It was a great expo for O My Dawg, Ms. Pearl’s, JC Cellars, and Kincaid’s – local restaurants. Instead of Linden Street Brewery beer, Pyramid was there. All in all, a great party despite the cold.

2 Jerry Brown: ‘Fill up the condos’ in Oakland | The Ellington Experience { 06.02.09 at 5:35 pm }