downtown oakland
Downtown Oakland circa 1910

Category — facadewatch

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!


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.

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