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Commercial development on the horizon

One of the criticisms of Jerry Brown’s 10k plan was that it put too much emphasis on housing, and not enough on job-generating commercial development. Real estate professionals have cited the downtown housing boom as one reason for Oakland’s low Class A office vacancy rate, and of course, the growing retail sector in Old Oakland and other downtown neighborhoods.

As Oakland’s 10k plan gets closer to fulfillment (about 2000 units will open in the next six months, including 665 apartments as part of Uptown), there is renewed interest in commercial development. Two large Class A office buildings (which are already entitled) are moving through the design review process. Meanwhile, the city is receiving a report identifying Oakland’s last, best chance at large-scale retail development.

As part of Shorenstein’s City Center complex, the third of four planned skyscrapers along 12th Street is getting its design review hearing on Wednesday. The 600,000sf, 23-story building would be substantially larger and taller than 555 12th street, the first City Center office Shorenstein built themselves. It is interesting to note that the building is the absolute maximum size allowed for the lot (including very substantial density bonuses). Are zoning restrictions forcing office developers to scale back their projects?

The long-awaited Key System project (1100 Broadway) is moving forward despite the loss of its anchor tenant (University of California) with a public meeting next Tuesday at the Marriott. The historic building and its adjoining lot were purchased this spring by SKS Investments. It is already entitled. They plan an 11-story, 210,000sf office building that incorporates the facade of the Key System building.


Last but certainly not least, the Conley Consulting Group has proposed to leverage residential developers’ interest in Broadway Auto Row to create a large, upscale, urban retail destination. You can read about it at Assuming the auto dealers leave (they want the same space as the Wayans Brothers on the Army Base), there will be acres and acres of developable land, close to downtown and public transportation. If the city carried out the plan by instituting zoning controls and design guidelines, and writing a master EIR, there could be over one million square feet of retail space and 1800 residential units. They estimate construction could start by 2011.

Posted in armybase, housing, oakland, planningcommission.

7 Responses

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  1. V Smoothe says

    Wow. The Key System rendering is gorgeous!

  2. dto510 says

    I agree, it’s very handsome. More importantly, that huge hole on Broadway needs to be filled!

  3. Eric says

    I, too, am very glad that long standing hole is going to be filled, and that rendering is really nice. Such a central, high-profile location, though, it’s too bad it couldn’t go taller.

  4. naomi schiff says

    SKS has a more recent rendering which was shown at an Oakland Heritage Alliance meeting. As suggested by Eric, above, it shows a taller building, I believe about 20 stories, a somewhat more elegant design, and has interesting green features that I think were added after the rendering you have here, including some small efficient wind turbines for power generation, and some passive solar features. The quality of the restoration of the former Key System Building (originally built as a bank) is improved over the last iteration of the design for this site. SKS sounds optimistic about finding a high-tech or other forward-looking tenant to take a substantial amount of the proposed square footage. (If you know anyone, have them call SKS!!)

  5. dto510 says

    That sounds great! I didn’t think the historic portion was integrated was well as possible, so I’m glad they took another look at that. Thanks for the update.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Shorenstein should ask for more FAR « Oakland’s Future linked to this post on September 27, 2007

    [...] Future An Optimistic Perspective « Commercial development on the horizon Shorenstein should ask for more FAR September 27th, 2007 Before the media frenzy over [...]

  2. What do SKS Investments, Ron Dellums, and the Wayans Brothers all have in common? | A Better Oakland linked to this post on April 2, 2008

    [...] to the Trib, SKS Investments has decided to hold off construction on 1100 Broadway, approved by the Planning Commission in December, until they can find an anchor tenant. A while [...]