Hey Oakland, Get Ready to Work. Your time has come.
Bay Area residents are used to a few things: great weather, good restaurants, and fog on any major holiday involving fireworks. Unfortunately, another thing we’re used to is traffic. With many offices located in tech hubs — Mountain View, San Jose, San Francisco — lots of Bay Area residents take cars, shuttles, carpools, and BART on a daily basis. Commutes from the East Bay to San Jose can take upwards of two hours. Two hours on a freeway vs. telecommuting? No wonder people prefer to phone it in via FaceTime.
What’s the fix for this commute nightmare? Enter Oakland, with a prime physical location, a downtown ripe for revival, and pre-existing major BART lines. Looks like Oakland’s ready to host a whole new generation of workspaces. The Mercury News reports that downtown Oakland is about to get a new office tower on a historic site, saying “Oakland’s time has come.” The new office tower is slated to be built on a lot next to the historic Key Building downtown, which will be renovated and connected to the new tower. The new tower is only a block away from BART and should be ready in 2019 — and it’s already 50% leased. Developer James Ellis thinks the BART location is a big deal for this tower, saying: “Tenants are really demanding that they are much closer to mass transportation than they used to.”
New office construction that blends historic with modern seems to be the trend in Oakland, and it’s hard to even take a headcount of all the new development projects in the works. TMG Partners is revamping a 1930’s Art Deco furniture store into office space, and plenty of other developers are looking into similar revamps. Uber has just sold Oakland’s former Sears building, and it looks like that Art Deco classic will also have a new life as office space. Harvest Properties has plans to renovate the iconic Tribune Tower. And with the Oakland A’s eyeing a stadium site at Jack London Square, the downtown skyline might look pretty different in a decade or so. (Come on, A’s, don’t leave us…)
It’s not just tech companies driving the Oakland office boom, either. A wide range of industries are seeking out space in Oakland, and TMG Development Director David Cropper says that traffic and location may be the driving force: “Employers want to be closer to the East Bay not for the cheaper rents, but for all the stuff Oakland has,” Cropper said. “BART has always been important, but is even more important now that traffic is only getting worse.”
So, East Bay denizens, watch this space. Lots more to come on the booming Oakland office market…