Oakland Development Matters Year in Review (Part 2)

2017 was a big year for development in Oakland.

Take a look back at all the development news that impacted Oakland in the second part of the year. The first part of this story was published in last week’s edition.   


July 7: A massive fire destroyed a seven-story housing and retail project under construction at 2302 Valdez St. This was the fourth major fire at a construction site in the East Bay in two years. Wood Partners, the developer of the 196-unit building known as Alta Waverly, later announced plans to rebuild.

July 20: After briefly pausing work on its Downtown Specific Plan, the Oakland city government announced that it was resuming work on the plan and would assemble a series of working groups and neighborhood meetings in the coming months to get further input on it. The Downtown Specific Plan will set guidelines and goals for implementing development in the city’s economic heart. It will essentially be a roadmap created by the community and the city government that will state what they want to see built in the area and how they’d like it to be developed.

July 21: The City of Oakland named William Gilchrist as its new Director of Planning and Building. Prior to coming to Oakland, Gilchrist served as the Director of Place-Based Planning for the City of New Orleans, a position he’d held since 2010. Gilchrist was also a senior associate at AECOM in Atlanta, an engineering consulting firm. For 15 years prior, he was the Director of Planning, Engineering and Permits for the City of Birmingham, Alabama.

July 28: The Planning Department released its list of active construction projects and proposals for the summer of 2017. It showed 20 mixed-use buildings totaling 3,006 residential units and 170,685 square feet of commercial space under construction. These buildings have a collective job value of $550,164,768.


Aug. 4:  Essex Property Trust and Swenson Builders announced plans to build a 16-story, 294-unit building at 412 Madison St. in Jack London Square. Essex owns more than 60,000 apartments on the West Coast and is one of the country’s largest landlords. 

Aug. 10:  The city released a housing progress report that showed just 170 of the 2,781 housing units under construction in Oakland at the time were deemed affordable.

Aug. 24: Uber said it would sell the former Sears building between Broadway and Telegraph. The ride-sharing company had planned to make the building its second headquarters but announced plans in April to roll back the number of employees it would bring to the site. After several missteps within the company, it ultimately decided to give up on the project altogether. Uber would later sell the site to CIM Group for $180 million. 


Sept. 3: The Alameda Labor Council, the San Francisco Labor Council, SEIU 1021, Fight for $15 and other labor organizations came together in Oakland for a Labor Day of Action. The Oakland event was part of a nationwide demonstration to honor the union labor movement and to push for all workers to be paid a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour.

Sept 13: The Oakland A’s announced plans to build its new ballpark at the Peralta Community College Headquarters at Laney College. The team had previously announced that it was considering two other sites as well, including the Howard Terminal and the Coliseum location.

Sept. 13: Zillow released a report that showed Oakland homeowners’ average profit is $235,000 when they sell their homes. They tend to make a 78 percent return on their investment, the largest percentage gain on properties in any U.S. city.


Oct. 3: The Oakland City Council agreed to move ahead with setting up ‘Safe Havens,” homeless encampments sanctioned by the city to include portable toilets and wash stations.

Oct. 4: The Planning Commission approved both a six-story mixed-use building at 2401 Broadway and an 18-story office tower on the long-vacant lot at 1100 Broadway.

Oct. 8: UrbanCore Development and the Oakland Economic Development Corp began construction on 110 pre-fab homes on BART-owned land next to Coliseum BART. When complete, half the homes will be affordable, while the other half will be market-rate.

Oct 18: Despite a coalition of local labor unions and community organizations----such as the Building and Construction Trades Council of Alameda, the Alameda Labor Council, the International Association of Firefighters Local 55, as well as the East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy and the Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy---opposing the Oak Knoll project at a Planning Commission meeting, Commissioners approved SunCal’s 935 home Oak Knoll project to go forward. 

Oct. 19: Longtime Oakland Firefighter Darin White was named as the new fire chief, replacing former Chief Teresa Deloach Reed. 

Oct. 27: Pinnacle Red Group proposed a 460-foot high-rise with 185 market-rate and affordable condos, 120,000 square feet of office space, and 12,000 square feet of retail space at 1261 Harrison St. If this project goes forward, it will be the tallest high-rise in Oakland. 


Nov 8: A poll released by the Oakland Chamber of Commerce found that voters supported placing the Oakland A’s new ballpark at the Peralta Community College District Headquarter by a margin of 2 to 1. 

Nov. 15: In one of the most contentious City Council meetings in recent memory, which included Council President Larry Reid personally attacking the credibility of three of his colleagues and repeatedly threatening to expel several members of the audience for disruption, councilmembers approved SunCal’s Oak Knoll project by a vote of 5 to 3. The project was approved without a project labor agreement with local unions, or affordable housing on site. In addition, multiple labor and community groups opposed it, like the Building & Construction Trades Council of Alameda County, UNITE HERE Local 2850, the Urban Peace Movement and Oakland Community Organizations.  


Dec. 3: Criminal proceedings began against Ghost Ship tenants Derick Almena and Max Harris. The two are accused neglecting conditions in their warehouse that led to the deadly fire that killed 36 one year earlier. 

Dec. 5: Approximately 3,000 city workers walked out of their jobs and went on strike, shutting down most of the city government. Libraries and community centers were shuttered, city offices closed, parking meters left unattended. Several city departments, including the Planning and Building Department, remained closed for a week. 

Dec. 5: The governing board of the Peralta Community College District voted to stop discussions with the Oakland A’s over the team building a new ballpark at the current site of Peralta’s headquarters, a major setback for the team.  

Dec. 12: San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. Despite being mayor of the city across the Bay, Mayor Lee’s policies, specifically his payroll tax break for tech companies, had a major impact on Oakland. He was responsible for helping to drive many San Franciscans to the East Bay.


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  • Sam Felsing
    published this page in Archive News 2018-01-05 09:31:42 -0800