Sunfield Sustainable Development (“Sunfield”, “SSD”) plans to build a massive parking garage for the corner of San Pablo Avenue and 18th Street. Figure A. (click for large view)
Note that the currently green-fenced “empty uptown lot” between FOX Theater and the Uptown Apartments is empty, unlike in the illustration.
How the area looks now:
Backgrounder: Where this came from
Back in late 2009, the city put out a request for proposals to developers to remake vacant, underutilized land. Thirteen proposals came back.
There were 10 sites in the notice of opportunity. Six received proposals:
1. 905 66th Ave.
2. Foothill Blvd. and Seminary Ave.
3. 73rd St. and Foothill Blvd.
4. 6775 Oakport St.
5. 606 Clara St. and 9418 Edes Ave.
6. San Pablo Ave. and 19th St.
Those that didn’t receive proposals
7. 2777 Foothill Blvd.
8. 3566 Foothill Blvd.
9. 3600 Foothill Blvd.
10. 10451 MacArthur Blvd.
Is this planned development another terrible mechanized assault on the Uptown pedestrian experience in a long line of car-happy developments, or is it much-needed infill redevelopment retail therapy? SunField Development does include bowling in one of their schematics… oh boy, bowling!
You all know I’ve yammered forever about Oakland needing its own classy bowling establishment. If they throw in a pinball arcade for V Smoothe and don’t lower the height of the thing for Becks this might be fait accompli… but probably not.
More below, here’s the dirty details:
What’s there right now?
An empty eyesore of gray concrete pavement. Once in a while it is used by skateboarders and BMX trick bikers. Surrounded by chain link fence. Anything would be better — or would it? (click for larger view)
- Car drivers and businesses (all of the below)
- Uptown and Downtown residents, if alluded to bowling alley and other non-drinking non-music commercial activity centers are actually built
- Oakland Ice patrons
- FOX Theater patrons
- Restaurants: Flora, Xolo, Hibiscus patrons
- Nightlife: The New Parish, Bench and Bar, Somar Bar, Cafe Van Cleef patrons (some of these are indirect beneficiaries from having more parking available to their own patrons from spillover from the businesses most affected)
- Sears, or whoever uses the Sears building later
- Potentially: Uptown residents, Fox Court residents
- Sun Field Development (tax breaks and other kickbacks in return for a trifling amount of lobbying dollars, if any)
- City Councilwoman Nancy Nadel who represents District 3, which this is part of. (something constructive happening in D3 which isn’t directly crime- or poverty-related)
- Auto maker, auto maintenance, oil and gas, pavement and construction industries – temporarily through 2030 (specifically: Chevron gas station at 18th and Castro)
- Benefits: security of closer night-time parking in crime-ridden Oaktown; increased (?) tax base for City of Oakland; closer proximity to Uptown businesses for people who refuse to take non-car transportation to get here
Who doesn’t benefit?
- Uptown and Downtown residents, workers and visitors who must contend with more car-related noise (road noise, engine noise, car alarms, the rare screeching tire)
- Local workers, residents of all types who walk or bike to work
- Local people who enjoy a quiet night in — especially Uptown Apartment/601 William Building and Fox Court Apartment residents
- Local people who enjoy walking about without having to worry too much about speeding car drivers
- AC Transit drivers and commuters — must contend with more traffic
- Taxi drivers — fewer people will take transit and need a taxi (exception: it’s raining and lazy people need a ride back to the garage)
- Hard to answer this without seeing the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR)… okay here are some EIR links
- Don’t see any EIRs related to the Fox Uptown project
Are there any parking garages you like? The only one I like is the Kaiser Garage, and it’s solely because of the rooftop garden!
Should City of Oakland Planning department (CEDA) and Planning Commission demand (require) an enforceable list of PUBLIC AMENITIES in return for this low-cost or free public (taxpayer) land? If so, what? Here’s my list.
- Urban Forestry: Rainwater-fed green roof garden on top, not parking, to mitigate urban heat island effect of street pavement;
- Urban Forestry: Full greenery application to building shell;
- Green Building: LEED Gold or Platinum certification (the irony right?);
- Multi-modal transportation planning: Add minimum 200 [was 250] properly constructed BICYCLE parking spaces (to match their up-to 525 car parking spaces!) including bicycle amenities: a small fix it shop stand run by Bay Area Bikes (small stand, NYC or Tokyo style);
- Public Art: paint select walls, floors and ceilings (lo and behold, Michaelangelo!) inside the garage as well as some outside;
- contribute $1 million to AC Transit for their Bus Rapid Transit program;
- contribute $1 million to BART for 19th Street Station upgrades; and
- finally, contribute $2 million to Oakland’s General Fund earmarked for repaving roads — and perhaps for upgrading traffic lights and upgrading car- and human-scale wayfinding signage downtown.
Yes, it’s an extreme list of demands. Sunfield “Sustainable” Development’s team would never go for this. I admit it. But it’s a starting point for discussion and cities are now very well known to be economic crucibles of wealth generation. Oakland should expect no less in terms of build quality from private concerns. If SF has LEED Gold hotels and free pedestrian street redesigns paid for by Audi, why shouldn’t Oakland have some classy urban experiences too?
City of Oakland is in no position (unless it largely axes pensions) to offer huge tax breaks, gold-plated subsidies or too many incentives to Sunfield as it did for the Jerry Brown green-lighted Uptown re-development project. Cash is king.
SSD reps minimal green creds after having built out many many subdivisions and CRE projects and also has a couple other Oakland developments up its sleeve. They’re on the LEED bandwagon, which while watered down is better than nothing.
On the plus side, this isn’t suburban “SSDD” — it’s infill development, which is what California needs. And if the garage lives up to the promises outlined in Sunfield’s slideshow, it’ll play nicely with the current Central District Urban Renewal Plan.