Oakland Development Matters Year in Review (Part 1)

2017 was a big year for development in Oakland.

Take a look back at all the development news that impacted Oakland in the first part of the year. 


Jan. 3: Venus Johnson was named the director of the city’s Public Safety office.  Johnson previously worked in Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office.

Jan. 11: Mayor Libby Schaaf issued an executive order that allowed for property owners of buildings not zoned for residential living, but did have people living in them, to enter into an abatement and compliance plan with the city to bring their buildings up to code. This order was aimed at protecting residents in buildings like the Ghost Ship, which had a devastating fire just a month earlier due to substandard conditions.

Jan. 27:  Oakland released its annual budget poll, which showed that residents strongly preferred that the city prioritize matters related to housing costs and affordability in its next budget. Nearly 72 percent of Oaklanders said that they wanted the city to spend more on helping homeless people.

Jan. 30: Construction began on Seminary Point, a 27,000 square foot shopping center at Foothill Boulevard and Seminary Avenue. The project had been in the works for 12 years.


Feb 1: The Oakland Planning Commission approved developer Boston Properties’ 25-story, 402-unit (including 45 on-site affordable units) residential tower next to MacArthur BART. Boston Properties agreed to a project labor agreement (PLA) with local unions for constructing the new tower, making it so 50 percent of the construction workers helping to build it would be local hires. The tower would gain final approval by the City Council in March.

Feb 22: Developer CIM Group announced plans to build 2 Kaiser Plaza, a 450-foot, 34-story tower that could yield 1.1. million square feet of commercial space.


March 3: The Oakland Conduit published its first issue.

March 5: Construction began on a 33-story tower at 449 17thStreet. The new building, when complete, will include 254 residential units and 4,135 square feet of retail and commercial space, including a four-story garage. It is the first major development in Oakland by developer Lennar Multifamily, a division of Lennar Corp.

March 13: Developer Lane Partners filed plans for two towers, a 14-story, 144-unit tower at 2015 Telegraph Ave. and an 18-story, 230-unit tower at 2016 Telegraph Ave.

March 14: Oakland Fire Chief Teresa Deloach Reed announced she would retire. Reed faced many criticisms about the management and inspection procedures of the fire department, especially after the Ghost Ship fire in December.

March 20: Ellis Partners and Intercontinental Real Estate purchased the long-vacant parcel at 1100 Broadway. They also bought the adjoining historic Key System Building. 

March 23: Construction of a 48-unit rental property at 201 Broadway began. The building, known as the Mirador, replaced Duke's R&B nightclub.

March 27: NFL owners overwhelmingly approved the Oakland Raiders’ move to Las Vegas.

March 31: East Bay Residents for Responsible Development, a coalition of more than 500 Oakland families, released a poll that showed that 92 percent of Oakland residents ranked homelessness as an “extremely” or “very serious problem” in the city, followed closely by a lack of affordable housing (87 percent). The majority of Oaklanders (73 percent) believed that the pace of development in the city was “about right” or “too slow,” but they didn’t want indiscriminate building and strongly preferred developments be built with community benefits.


April: Signature Development Group broke ground on the first homes at Brooklyn Basin, a major new neighborhood on the estuary just north of Jack London Square.

April 19: The Planning Commission approved a 40-story tower at 1314 Franklin. The tower approval had been delayed two weeks while the Oakland Chinatown Coalition and the Black Arts Movement and Business District worked with the tower’s developer to secure a better community-benefits agreement for the project. 

April 19: The Oakland Planning Commission gave the go-ahead for developer CIM Group to build two new residential towers in Jack London Square. The first tower approved is an eight-story, 135-dwelling-unit building with 2,470 square feet of retail space, as well as 36 on-site parking spaces to be built on the west side of Broadway, south of the Union Pacific right-of-way on Embarcadero. The other tower is also eight stories and will be built south of Embarcadero between Harrison and Alice streets. This second tower is larger than its sibling, with 338 dwelling units, 2,562 square feet of ground floor retail and 86 on-site parking spaces. 

April 20: Communities for Equitable Development launched a petition urging Mayor Libby Schaaf, who has appointed a number of developers to the Planning Commission, to name more members from the labor and small business communities to the commission, rather than developers.

April 28: Mayor Libby Schaaf released her proposed budget for Oakland’s 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. The budget, which totaled roughly $2.6 billion, included several new expenditures relevant to real estate development in the city. Of immediate note was Schaaf’s plan to increase the Planning and Building department’s budget from $29.9 million to $34.2 million in fiscal year 2017-18, and $35.5 million in 2018-19. 


May 15: Michael Marr, the largest private landlord in Oakland, began his trial for participating in a bid-rigging scheme to win foreclosure auctions. He and two others, Javier Sanchez and Gregory Casorso, were ultimately convicted in June.

May 17: The Planning Commission approved a 25-story mixed-use tower at 1721 Webster St. to replace a two-story parking garage. When complete, the new tower will rise to 270 feet and will hold 250 residential dwelling units, 5,000 square feet of office space, and 2,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.

May 26: Some 13 construction workers were injured at a construction site at 3093 Broadway. No major injuries were reported, but 12 workers were treated and released from a local hospital.


June 3: East Bay Residents for Responsible Development kicked-off its new Red Tag campaign in an effort to bring attention to real estate projects in Oakland that do not match with the city’s values. In the construction trade, a red tag denotes a condemned building. The first project EBRRD targeted was SunCal’s Oak Knoll project in the Oakland Hills. The group distributed “red tag” doorhangers around Oakland neighborhoods to let residents know about the deficiencies of the project.

June 21: City dignitaries attended the ceremonial groundbreaking for the MacArthur Commons apartment complex. Designed by Ankrom Moisan Architects, the complex, which is directly adjacent to MacArthur Bart, will consist of 395 for-rent multifamily units (including many below-market-rate units) spread out across three buildings on 2.18 acres of land. It will feature a fitness center, a clubroom, an outdoor pool and spa, and a pedestrian plaza called “The Mews.” MacArthur Commons is partially funded with union investment funds and is expected to generate 700 jobs and 1.3 million hours of work for union construction workers.  

June 21: The Planning Commission unanimously decided to delay its vote on the Oak Knoll development, citing the project’s unfinished development agreement as the main reason for the delay. East Bay Residents for Responsible Development and several other unions had advocated for the delay. 

June 26: The City of Oakland announced plans to spend up to $14 million to purchase a hotel in the city’s downtown to help house some of the city’s 1,900 homeless population.

June 28: The City Council approved its $2.5 billion biennial budget. The budget set aside monies to triple the number of fire inspectors from eight to 20; added $185 million toward anti-displacement/homeless services; and put $120 million toward capital improvements.

The second part of this story, covering the next half of the year, will be published in next week’s edition.


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  • Sam Felsing
    published this page in Archive News 2017-12-29 09:09:56 -0800