San Francisco Chronicle
January 4, 2016
By Rachel Swan
Thompson Dorfman Partners envisions a development near the 19th Street BART Station that would include shops and 234 apartments.
The Oakland City Council is poised Tuesday to approve plans for an ambitious mixed-use development near the 19th Street BART Station, one in a spate of projects intended to bring the city’s economic boom to its sparse Auto Row strip.
The plan would authorize Oakland to sell two contiguous parking lots at 2330 Webster St. and 2315 Valdez St. to a development team led by Thompson Dorfman Partners, a Mill Valley real estate firm. The team would pay $9.45 million for 1.42 acres of land and fill it with 234 apartments, 17,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and a public parking garage that it would eventually sell back to the city; 36 apartments would be reserved for affordable housing.
Bruce Dorfman, who is steering the project, said it will help meet a rising demand for housing and amenities in Oakland.
“This is a core location,” Dorfman said. “It’s close to the lake, close to the BART, and it’s going to be a vibrant retail district and entertainment area.”
One thing a vibrant retail district doesn’t need is a sprawling parking lot, said Rachel Flynn, who heads Oakland’s Planning and Building Department.
“If this gets built, it’ll activate the streets day and night,” she said.
The area is already seeing change, two years after Oakland’s City Council approved a new land-use plan for its Broadway Valdez district, which spans the Broadway corridor between Grand Avenue and Interstate 580. For decades, that area was dominated by car dealerships and repair shops.
Oakland officials invited developers to revitalize those historic buildings while blanketing the area with new shops and residential construction.
“You see this happening in other cities,” Flynn said. She cited Manhattan’s 11th Avenue as an example: Tech offices and condos now abut the sprawling showrooms that once made it a car capital of the world.
In Oakland, the car dealerships will soon be joined by a slew of high-rises and restaurants. A six-story apartment building is expected to break ground at 2302 Valdez St. in the next three months, and a Sprouts Market is to open at 30th Street and Broadway on Jan. 13.
The area already has several large office buildings and a downtown YMCA, providing plenty of clientele for new businesses, Flynn said.
The proposed project at 2330 Webster and 2315 Valdez streets will bring hundreds of new households to the area, which will encourage more businesses to move in, she added.
But new development won’t necessarily scrub out the character of Auto Row, Flynn said, noting that many dealerships still operate there. Manhattan’s 11th Avenue retained many of its old showrooms — and brought in new ones — even as it gentrified, and she expects Oakland to follow suit.
“Oftentimes people think you just have to get rid of Auto Row,” Flynn said. “But you can mix it up.”
Click here to view original article.