Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 12, 2013

The Two Towers

Filed under: Alameda, Alameda Landing, Alameda Neighbors — Lauren Do @ 6:02 am

More in development-y stuff but not Alameda specific, there are plans to build not one, but two towers in Oakland’s Jack London Square, residential towers to be exact which will affect egress and ingress via the tubes.   The developer, Ellis Partners at one point in time had planned for one of the sites to be retail and office space.  The other site was supposed to be a hotel.   Now they are both going residential because, well, because that’s what’s going to sell.  And because San Francisco (more on that later)   From SF Business Times:

Ellis Partners LLC is revamping its plans to transform Jack London Square with a proposal to build up to 665 housing units.

The developer submitted an application to the City of Oakland to amend a previous development plan. The new plan calls for two housing towers of more than 20 stories on sites currently entitled for office and retail development.

There is a good map here of where those towers will be located, so it’s pretty near the water front, Alamedans will be able to look across the water from Alameda Landing — if the Alameda Landing waterfront ever gets built — and marvel (or scoff) at these new towers.  Given how little retail exists around the area of Jack London Square, Alameda Landing’s Target and new Safeway will surely see an influx of these condo dwellers.   Although the article suggests that all the new tenants could entice a full service grocery store to locate in Jack London Square, right now Luckys at Mariner Square is the closest full service grocery store to Jack London Square.  I guess if folks wanted to buy local they could go to Whole Foods which is the next closest, but not every one can afford those prices.

So Oakland seems especially well poised to take on the housing burden from San Francisco which has had a lot of national press these days from the conflicts between the tech sector and, I’m guessing, the rest of San Francisco.  Add to that the occasional foot in mouth screed from some techie wunderkind and you have perfect fodder for national attention. (I think MI linked to this in another post).   But a recent-ish piece was in the Economist about how unaffordable San Francisco has become to anyone not working for Twitter or Google.

Unemployment in San Francisco is now an enviable 5.3%. But the flip side of this success is a crisis of affordability. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is now $3,250, the highest in the country; the median house sells for $850,000. That is a lot, even for the city’s high earners (see chart). The National Association of Homebuilders, which compares prices to earnings, ranks San Francisco’s housing the most unaffordable in America.

But even more tweaks to housing law will not fix San Francisco’s problems. Indeed, after decades of failed housing policy there is probably no solution, at least in the short term. Thanks to restrictive zoning laws, a Byzantine permit process and a pathological culture of NIMBYism, San Francisco has dismally failed to meet demand for housing.



  1. BRE has a lovely waterfront apartment community in Jack London Square with studio apartments renting for over $2,000, and two bedroom apartments renting for around $2,600. Ellis will probably follow suit. Oakland is aggressively positioning themselves to take advantage of the lack of housing in San Francisco. The SF Business Times have featured them twice in one month.

    I’m disappointed that Catellus chose to focus on developing a Target instead of an exciting waterfront development. Hope it’s not too late for them!

    Comment by Karen Bey — December 12, 2013 @ 9:34 am

  2. who are most of the refugees from S.F. and what kind of housing are they being driven from? I don’t think average family in the Mission being priced out of a Victorian flat would want to live in one of these towers. I’ve recently met some folks in late twenties , early thirties who have come here from neighborhoods like the Haight. Can’t see them in these towers either. Then we have posed development at Ninth Avenue Terminal with proposed towers but in even less practical proximity to BART. I heard recently from activists in adjacent neighborhood that the developers there may build out infrastructure and get zoning approval and sell out chunks of that with entitlements to others to build.

    Comment by MI — December 12, 2013 @ 10:28 am

  3. The 9th to Oak is supposes to have several highrises. The freeway is already clogged. but Alameda has no juristriction over what Oakland does. Start riding the ferry. I think it is better they build close to the population areas rather then build in Tracy or places like that where poeple have to drive a long ways to work. There is a huge fairly new luckys (propbably 1 and 1/2 or 2 times the size of the one on Alameda by Lake Merritt. If I lived over there that is where I would go. I went to Target on Sunday…and it was more buzy then I have ever seen it…but it was familys and everyone brought their kids. They didn’t have what I wanted so I left. I still haven’t bought anything there.

    Comment by Joe — December 13, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

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