Tag Archives: downtown

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.’

Let the “gentrification” continue! Until morale improves ;)

Downtown Oakland is really coming up…

When was the last time you went to a bar, lounge or club in Oakland and had to wait in line to get in?? Maybe I need to get out more? I recall doing that in SF back in the day but never here. Everyone from the Bay comes to Downtown Oakland now – from Hercules, Rockridge, Walnut Creek, Berkeley, San Francisco, Hayward….and yes there were lines last night, at Somar Bar and Era Art Bar and Lounge among other spots.

Waiting in Line, SF, 2005, photo by Thomas Hawk (example pic since i didn't take any last night)

It wasn’t an Art Murmur night. No concerts at FOX or Paramount. Just a nice Saturday night in “Tha Town.” It’s hard for me to fathom Oakland’s chilly windy weather at night.  A month and a half ago we had an 85 degree day, which I figured was Oakland’s “summer.” Daytimes are sunny but at night it can get windy and cold around here! Well, that’s gonna change next week, and get ready to party, cuz the lists of places to go are getting longer and longer! Continue reading

art murmur resentment?

Seems a small minority of people aren’t Art Murmur fans. Don’t they know they are supposed to love all the things Lanesplitter? Could be a disaffected former fan I suppose… who knows.

Art 1.

Proper grammar and spelling would have been F “the” Art Murmur, not “Murmer.”

Art 2.

Not sure what the tagger was getting at in #2.  Phony Judaism? Phone Israel?

There’s some more at Bibliomania if I get off my ass soon, might record it too.

As far as positive views on the murmur, check out Becks and Gene‘s photos.

Would be more interesting to see an art gallery by the disaffected people called Art Murder but I don’t foresee that happening. I do like the wrinkled forehead egghead tagging on freeways…

Behind Government Budget Problems

Sutro Baths Steps by sirgious
Sutro Baths Steps, a photo by sirgious on Flickr.

This month’s post by Gail the Actuary explains our country’s (and the world’s) economic situation better than I ever could, so here it is.

This obviously speaks for Oakland as well, since we’re one of hundreds of US cities built upon a once lustrous but increasingly potholed and cracked foundation of cheap (and now all burnt up) oil and gasoline.

We’ll need to find other means of social lubrication, and in the meantime, don’t be poor!

The ramifications touch every part of our society, and thus I’ve tagged this with all categories. Put on your systems thinking cap and get reading!

Heads up: Fox Uptown Parking Garage


Details forthcoming, TBA.

Park-o-matic Borg on the Loose?

Oakland’s city planning department as noted on other Oakland blogs has some enthusiasm for surface parking. We’re not sure why. We wish they were bigger fans of say Lady Gaga (coming March to the Oakland Arena) or basashimi (raw horse sashimi). The city has plenty of sunlit Urban Heat Island inducing blacktop already. [Update/caveat: we haven’t verified this alleged enthusiasm ourselves, and are depending on good reporting from other Oaklanders and or Oakland blogs.]

More parking means more cars, more gasoline imports, less space for relaxation, less social life, less “green city,” more “gray city.” Cities are for grid-connected electric vehicles (elevators, streetcars), not horses and cars, silly!

A sampling of downtown’s existing parking lots and parking garages shaded red below. Click to enlarge.

Maybe the city planning department wants Oakland to look like Houston. Downtown Houston looks like it was bombed out during WWII.  At least they did it with their own oil…

Link to Houston satellite photo.

Link to Oakland paid parking lots.

The high cost of parking has been discussed endlessly in planning circles.

Alternatives to surface parking lots w/ examples:

  • Underground parking lots – San Francisco AMC Theater, Kintetsu Mall, Oakland Kaiser Convention Center/City Center
  • Buildings – the rest of Oakland downtown, SF, Tokyo, Paris, Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Boston…
  • Sports fields (Americans are out of shape and bored) – Berkeley’s soccer fields by 880 @Gilman
  • Outdoor Concert Halls – Greek Theater, Berkeley
  • Temporary tree nursery lots – SF’s Better MidMarket plan contemplates this
  • Art installations – SF’s mid-market, Uptown’s empty lot fencing
  • “Wild space” – you know
  • Community gardens – plenty of people would want to start/maintain these, ie Hayes Valley Farm, Tenderloin People’s Garden
  • Dog parks – Hardy Park, Rockridge; better than car parks

Are you against adding yet-more parking to downtown Oakland? Find who to contact at A Better Oakland. Let’s stop the CEDA-Planning Commission park-loving borg entity… and actually raise property values and increase human amenities downtown! (Plus emergency capacity.)

And just kidding about basashimi. I’d eat fried cockroaches before eating horse, rabbit or dolphin.

Posted from The Punchdown.

Midnight Garden

Fenced off city land. Photo by Becks.

There’s a spot of unused open space in downtown that I’ve gazed at for over a year now.  I was part of a group of people who spoke at city hall in 2009 to protest the city’s building of an asphalt desert (car storage space) there.  Lately I hear there are other, newer proposals for the space.  No FREE-for-100-year leases like some apartment developers got, but who knows.

In any case, I seeded a garden there last night ahead of tomorrow’s showers.

Continue reading