This past week (April 10 to April 14), representatives from Carmel Partners sat down with members of the Oakland Chinatown Coalition and the Black Arts Movement Business District to negotiate additional community benefits for Carmel's 1314 Franklin project.
As for how the negotiations are going, a representative from the Chinatown Coalition told the Conduit:
"Negotiations continue throughout the week, with the best possible outcome an agreement before the 4/19 Planning Commission meeting, and the worst possible outcome an appeal to have more time to resolve issues if the Planning Commission approves the project without a CBA."
Original April 7, 2017 Story
By Megan Collins---On Wednesday, the Oakland Planning Commission decided to delay voting on plans for a new high-rise development at 1314 Franklin Street. The Commission wants the San Francisco-based developer Carmel Partners to negotiate with community organizers to ensure sufficient benefits for the community come with the project.
Carmel Partners is proposing to build a 40-story, 634 residential unit tower with 16,500 square feet of ground-floor retail space on a one-block lot on Franklin Street between 13th and 14th streets; the space is currently occupied by a parking garage built in 1954. The College of California, the historic predecessor to the University of California, first occupied the block from 1868 to 1873. Although the spot is designated as a historical landmark, the Planning Commission has determined that it is not historically significant enough to exclude further construction on it. Instead, a commemorative bronze plaque marking the original location of the University of California would be removed from the wall of the parking garage and affixed to the new building.
Carmel Partners promises to transform 1314 Franklin into a new, flashy attraction that would bring vitality to the area, consistent with the city’s goals for the neighborhood outlined in the Lake Merritt Station Area Plan (LMSAP). Developers’ previous efforts to provide community benefits for their major projects going through the LMSAP entitlement process have caused some contention in the community, and as was observed at Wednesday night’s Planning Commission meeting, Carmel Partners’ proposal was not immune to that same scrutiny.
The project is not without community benefits currently, but community members feel they could be increased. 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 to provide affordable housing for the project. The developer wants its tower to be 400 feet tall, but the address is zoned for 275 feet. In order to get a concession from the city on the height cut-off, the developer must meet certain requirements laid out in the California Density Bonus Law, which grants certain incentives and concessions to developers who make arrangements for affordable or senior housing in their buildings.
Carmel Partners has proposed restricting either five percent of the 1314 Franklin tower’s housing units to very low-income residents, or offering 10 percent of its units to lower-income residents, to meet the density bonus law’s requirements for a height concession. Very low-income affordable units would be available to residents who earn 30 to 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI) of the Bay Area, estimated to be $75,900, while the lower-income affordable units would be for those earning 50 to 80 percent of the AMI.
Ultimately, three out of the five planning commissioners felt that both the developer and the community would benefit more by negotiating a better community benefits package. A representative from Carmel Partners plans to meet with community activists on Monday, April 10, in hopes of finding solutions to their concerns.