Tag Archives: chinatown

Skyscraper Index: Oakland Edition

Otowers

Oakland, back in the yuppie ’80s or was it ’90s, was to have had erected a 30- or 80-story tower. Right at Broadway and 10th or 11th Streets, or some other street on the Oakland Chinatown village border. Asian money from Hong Kong or nearby was to have funded it.

And after reading about the Skyscraper Index am I ever glad that it didn’t get built! The least of our problems would have been a helpful nudge into Rush Hour II territory: yet more people belching forth onto Broadway, 12th Street BART platform and into shiny people-movers that maximally hold five American-sized adults (legally). But maybe Jackie and Chris would have made a cameo. Oakland should be so lucky. Continue reading

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Liveblog: Street and bicycle improvements Lake Merrit BART/Chinatown

What Lake Merritt/Chinatown junction could look like with enough pre-2007 level economic development. Photo by me near Tokyo circa 200?

Since VSmoothe is out to lunch and I’ve also been out to lunch… here’s transcript of tonight’s Planning Commission meeting about the Lake Merritt Specific Area Plan.  Good to see a lot of you Oakland blogospherians at the podium. By the way, this blog is mistitled a bit. It’s about redeveloping the Lake Merritt/Laney College/South Chinatown area, not just putting in street and bike improvements. But I’m not going to change the title now.  My smartass commentary below is inside [brackets].

Highlights:

  • pro-development/ economic boost people
  • safety, transportation and land use are (duh) major issues
  • no big vision other than defining Chinatown properly with Gate, branding, like other Chinatowns around the world. (in itself, a bit of a vision)  renaming Lake Merrit BART Station as Laney-Chinatown station or similar would be a big help.  Connectivity is lacking in the area for pedestrians, though not for cars and buses (the lake physically pushes central – east oakland traffic thru Chinatown, affecting residents)
  • plan should partly heal the scars of 1950s freeway and BART infrastructure “progress” — of which the urban fabric was torn apart, like 980 connector through “black wall street” west of uptown.
  • 880 is a major contributor to air pollution afflicting residents, and its dank underbelly is a block between Jack London and Lake Merritt BART as well as Old Town, Downtown, Chinatown.
  • large actors (Laney, BART) haven’t written strong comments yet except Alameda County, which was critical.
  • development should incorporate and fund community benefits — including pedestrian and cyclist safety (lighting, striping), two-way and narrower streets which nobody doubts, but also affordable housing of which there is contention between regular folks and developers
  • most people in favor of taller buildings for economic expediency, climate protection, fulfulling sb375 TOD growth mandate, funding of community benefits
  • for whatever reason city council wants SAP moved quickly to finish up by end of 2012 (in time for elections?)

Go back in time, live on KTOP:

http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/CityCouncil/s/VideoArchive/index.htm

Tonight’s city hall presentation is a nice follow-up to my previous post from March 2011 about the  Lake Merrit BART Station improvement plan area.

Liveblog:

7:20PM: Joint statement by Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce (Alan) and another business group: Plan needs revision to link BART/Laney area with Chinatown. Not be a barrier between the two. Mechanism for growing small biz. Needs to prioritize pedestrian level lighting, not just striping bike lanes. Desiring zoning for a multiplicity of businesses. (multi-use zoning) [completely agree with multi-use zoning] Chinatown Biz Community views development as: CC is vital part of Oakland not just a tourist spot. [agree] Contributes $MM sales tax revenue to city…

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In memories yet green: goodbye Sears, hello Opportunity!

Sears: will it close the Oakland store in Uptown soon?  If so, good riddance!  Read more at sfIST.  (Note: Oakland Sears closing is complete conjecture at this point!)

The best thing that could happen to Uptown Oakland Sears is emptying and gutting it, seismically inspecting it and fixing if needed ($$!), putting in walls and stalls, creating a look down/up atrium indoors like Westfield-Bloomingdales has (Oh wait, we have the Rotunda building already), and turning it over to a mix of Chinatowners, Phil Tagami, Roy Alper and indie businesses a la PopUpHood — creating a Richmond 99 Ranch type mall. Maybe add F21+H&M to attract the “youth” market. And pop those windows for views of Uptown, the Lake and the Bay!

This week’s “big news” from Sears of 100+ store closings is actually a drop in the bucket, as Sears Holding Corporation has been rationing/ portioning out its store closings.  They’re also a mix of “brands” — Great Indoors, Kmart, Sears, etc.  There were actually 100 “other” store closings this year already! Click here for the list of pre-existing store closings.

The writing’s been on the wall for 1st world consumerism since Limits to Growth came out in the 70s. We all just kept spending thanks to increasingly large amounts of credit, now all poofed away.

As for the land itself, it’s potentially quite valuable: located on and above three BART lines (Fremont-Richmond, SF-PB, SF-Richmond), close to many intriguing eating and entertainment venues, and close to many apartment buildings as well as Kaiserville and what passes for Oakland’s Financial District.

Potential future tenants, current zoning notwithstanding:

  • the profitable non-profits of Mayor Quan’s largesse,
  • City of Oakland retirees and other retirees (sound-insulated old folk’s home on top floor or two),
  • lofts for The 5% and their hipster relatives (if retiree pensions get haircuts),
  • Can we all say at the same time: Bowling Alley! 😛
  • All hours Japan-style “love hotel” for nightlife lovers/ couples in the area (perfect: underground parking, close to transit, close to TONS of bars, restaurants and concert venues) on one floor (also sound insulated; no windows — I’d be happy to find some investors for this)
  • Mainland Chinese seeking permanent residency in the US.

What am I missing?  Anyway, Sears will be missed, but not by too many.  Their core demographic now shops WalMart and Target aplenty, sometimes the corner hardware store, and more often than not, Restoration ‘Hardware.’

Lake-Chinatown wasteland remediation meeting notes

3/5/11

Notes from Lake Merritt BART station & BART HQ neighborhood design charette

New Oaktown Backgrounder: The area between the lake and the SFBay estuary has always been in flux but for the past several decades has felt like a sad environment with nobody outside. The main park in the area is habited by homeless and transients, though sometimes with children and tai chi practicing elderly too. Continue reading