Developments We’re Thankful For

Since Oakland began its current construction boom, many developers of large projects have claimed that they can’t afford to include affordable housing, or use union labor, or hire locally, or provide community benefits in the construction of their projects.

But developers can provide these things. It’s possible and profitable. 

To celebrate the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, here are the developments in Oakland that we’re thankful for—developments that prove to many developers that hiring locally, paying family-sustaining wages to workers, and providing community benefits to residents are achievable goals that do not hinder profit. 

1. Brooklyn Basin


(Courtesy of

When complete, this project will create a diverse new neighborhood in Oakland comprised of 3,100 new residential units, 465 of which will be affordable. It will offer 200,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial and retail space; a minimum of 3,950 parking spaces; 29.9 acres of parks and public open space; and two renovated marinas. Existing wetlands around the site will also be restored.

Brooklyn Basin will meet LEED and Green Point Rated standards for sustainability.

At the end of the 15-year development of the project, it’s estimated that Brooklyn Basin will ultimately have created 10,000 jobs. A project labor agreement negotiated between the Alameda County Building Trades Council and the master developer, Signature Development, ensures that the construction jobs will be beneficial to local workers. And a community benefits agreement between the developer and local community groups guarantees, among other things, that Signature will spend $1.6 million on job training to help workers prepare for union apprenticeship programs and meet local hiring requirements.

At the project’s groundbreaking, Building Trades Council of Alameda County Executive Secretary Andreas Cluver said, “The PLA will ensure that the jobs will be good paying jobs and there will be apprenticeship opportunities that provide pathways for careers in construction.”

2. MacArthur Commons


(Courtesy of Hines)

When complete, this project will consist of 395 for-rent multifamily units (including many below-market-rate units) spread throughout three buildings on 2.18 acres of land right next to MacArthur Bart. It will feature a fitness center, a clubroom, an outdoor pool and spa, and a pedestrian plaza called “The Mews.”

Not only does this project have union labor working on the project, it has union dollars helping to fund it as well. MacArthur Commons is partially funded with union pension funds and is expected to generate 700 jobs and 1.3 million hours of work for union construction workers.

At its groundbreaking back in June, Mayor Libby Schaaf called the apartment complex a role model for future projects, not just in Oakland, “but for cities across America. We are building [a] smart building next to transit. We’re doing responsible building, because it is union-built and even union-financed. And we are doing the type of elegant density that makes this city the vital, exciting, urban experience that people are excited to be a part of.”

3. Boston Properties’ MacArthur Bart Tower


(Courtesy of the Oakland Planning Commission) 

Neighboring the MacArthur Commons project, this 25-story, 402-unit tower with 10,000 square feet of ground floor retail will include 45 on-site affordable units when it’s completed in March of 2019.

Not only will this project be a boon for the Temescal neighborhood when it’s completed, with its mix of one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments, but it will have a significant positive impact for local workers. Developer Boston Properties signed a project labor agreement (PLA) with local unions that ensures that at least 50 percent of the workers who help build the new tower will be local.

Che Timmons, a business representative for the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 342, says the project is “how buildings in Oakland ought to be built.”

4. 1314 Franklin St.


(Courtesy of the Oakland Planning Commission)  

This will be Oakland’s largest residential tower when completed. The edifice will be a 40-story, 634 residential-unit tower with 16,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space on a one-block lot between 13th and 14th streets.

Its developer, Carmel Partners, has pledged to hire local labor at family-sustaining wages to build the tower, to give local businesses a first look at the building's retail space, and set aside either 27 units for very-low income residents or 54 units for moderate low-income residents.

Carmel has also negotiated a community-benefits agreement with local community groups in the surrounding neighborhood, particularly the Oakland Chinatown Coalition and the Black Arts Movement and Business District, to ensure neighborhood needs are met.

“The developer is using significant union labor for the project's construction and is bringing good jobs with fair benefits and labor practices to Oakland residents. We need this on every project in the city. In a recent study on the project, an economist found it will have an estimated $96 million construction payroll,” said a spokesman for East Bay Residents for Responsible Development, a coalition of four construction trade unions. “These wages will be circulated back into our community which will help local families, businesses, and the entire city. This project is a win-win for everyone.” 

5. Oakland Army Base Redevelopment


(Courtesy of

The redevelopment of the former army base is a great example of how public land can be turned into something that’s actually useful and helpful to the public. Half the site is owned by the Port of Oakland, while the other half of is owned by the city.

The city-owned portion of the land will become a sprawling shipping, packaging and distribution facility known as Oakland Global. It will employ about 1,500 workers when operational. A project labor agreement worked out between the city administrator’s office and local unions guarantees that at least half of the estimated 2,800 positions for the construction of the distribution hub will be union, with at least 20 percent of the workers being apprentices, and at least 50 percent of the apprentices being from Oakland.

The Port of Oakland’s portion of the land will become a state-of-the-art logistics facility. Under an agreement between community groups and the Port, workers at the complex will be paid at least $13.32 an hour with benefits, and $15.31 without benefits.

Employers in the Port logistics facility will be mandated to hire at least 50 percent of their employees from Oakland, Emeryville, Alameda and San Leandro, with special priority given to those living in Oakland’s flatlands and those who have previously experienced employment barriers. Employers will also be restricted from asking about employees’ past criminal histories.


We’re thankful for developers that hire locally, pay family-sustaining wages to workers, and provide community benefits. Wishing all our readers a wonderful Thanksgiving Day holiday.