2,150 Residential Units up for Discussion at Design Review Committee

At its Wednesday, Feb. 28, meeting, the Planning Commission’s Design Review Committee will consider four residential projects that could add roughly 2,150 new residential units to Oakland’s housing stock.

Only one of the projects’ developers has come to an agreement with local construction trades unions to provide workers with family-sustaining wages and apprenticeship opportunities.

A building’s character is more than just its design, but also the people it brings to a neighborhood. It is important that new construction provide family-sustaining wages and apprenticeships so workers who are building Oakland can live in Oakland.

On Wednesday, four unions in the mechanical trades (IBEW Local 595, Sheet Metal Workers Local 104, UA Sprinkler Fitters Local 483 and UA Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 342) will let the Design Review Committee know that three of the four buildings under consideration don’t live up to Oakland's character standards.

The details are:
Wednesday, Feb. 28
5 p.m.
Sgt. Mark Dunakin Hearing Room 1
City Hall
One Frank Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, 94612

Here is an overview of the projects that will be presented Wednesday.

1900-1944 Broadway
When complete, this site will be transformed into a 36-story tower with 451 residential units and 50,000 square feet of commercial space. In addition to the tower, a 4-story historical building will be renovated and a 1-story retail building will be demolished. The site is directly above the 19th Street BART station.

Part of the project is being funded by the EB-5 visa program, which allows entrepreneurs from outside the country to invest $500,000 in for-profit businesses that will use the funds to either directly or indirectly create up to 10 jobs. In return for the funds, the investors get visas to come to the United States. Its purpose is to drive investment in rural areas or areas with high unemployment. Thomas Henderson, previous owner of the Tribune Tower in Oakland, was brought under investigation by the SEC for misusing the EB-5 program.

Mission Bay Development Group, the developer of 1900-1944 Broadway, is best known for completing the Mission Bay neighborhood in San Francisco, which is now experiencing structural issues, literally sinking because of its location on top of a reclaimed swamp. Mission Bay Development Group is also the developer for the planned Giants’ Mission Rock neighborhood.

Mission Bay Development Group has not reached a project labor agreement with local unions for 1900-1944 Broadway.

1750 Broadway
At this address, Rubicon Point Partners plans to construct a 39-story tower with 307 residential units, 50,00 ground-floor square feet of commercial space, and a multilevel garage with 210 parking spaces. In order to construct the proposed tower, a preexisting 3-story office building will need to be demolished. The site is adjacent to the 19th Street BART station.

Rubicon Point Partners is active throughout the entire Bay Area and has recently increased its presence in Oakland. The company previously owned 505 14th St. and 1300 Clay St, both of which it sold to KBS Capital last year.

Rubicon has not negotiated a project labor agreement for the site with local unions.

500 Kirkham St.
This site will host three buildings that will collectively add 1,032 residential market-rate and affordable units and about 41,000 square feet of commercial space to Oakland.

The current developer for the project is Panoramic Interests. The group has previously completed projects in Berkeley and San Francisco, including several apartment buildings aimed at UC Berkeley students. The owner of the company, Patrick Kennedy, has built modular micro-housing for the homeless in Berkeley and Oakland. This is the company’s first project in Oakland.

Kennedy and Panoramic Interests have had mixed experiences with unionized labor. Kennedy’s proposal for homeless micro-units was rejected in San Francisco because unions objected to the shells being made in China, but he has pledged to use union labor for the on-site buildout in Berkeley if Panoramic Interests is selected by the city.

500 Kirkham has no project labor agreement currently.

101 East 12th St.
Unlike the other projects to be presented Wednesday, 101 East 12th St. has a project labor agreement in place between its developers and local unions that will ensure local workers are paid family-sustaining wages to work at the site.

The proposal for the site includes two residential towers: one with 252 market-rate units and 18 “workforce” units, and the other with 90 affordable housing units. The site will also include 1,500 square feet of commercial space and a 2,600 square-foot cultural center. A stormwater treatment center adjacent to the construction area will also be improved.

The developers for the project are UrbanCore and East Bay Asian Local Development Corp. Urbancore is simultaneously working on another Oakland housing project, Coliseum Connections, where half of the 110 housing units are set aside for low-income residents. East Bay Asian Local Development is a non-profit development agency with a history of building affordable housing projects in Oakland.