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How Oakland is Bringing in The Millennials

All landlords and developers are hungry for Millennials, and Oakland's been getting itself more and more in the conversation. At Bisnow's recent 2nd Annual Oakland State of the Market event at the Marriott City Center, some of the top power players talked about the latest trends in the surging market.

Harvest Properties project director Kathryn Collins revealed her firm is under contract to buy a historic office building in Oakland. Harvest pays close attention to what's happening at the macro and micro levels, and the live/work/play environment has really changed in Oakland. Since 2000 the number of 24- to 34-year-old residents within three miles of city center has increased by 40%. People want to live downtown where they can walk or bike to work, and Oakland hits all those boxes.

Port of Oakland director Pamela Kershaw (middle) says it's a great time to be in commercial real estate in Oakland—which wasn't true for the last four to five years. There have been amazing tenancy changes in Jack London Square, with the big news being a sublease finally signed for the ground floor of the Jack London Market building with the developer behind the Ferry Building, which will be arriving in the next 12 months. Essel Environmental Engineering & Consulting president Nik Lahiri moderated; Polaris Pacific partner Paul Zeger is to the right.

East Bay Asian Local Development Corp associate director Jason Vargas says as a community developer, public-private partnerships are key. His group's been developing in Oakland for 40 years, throughout recessions and upswings. The nearby Swan's Market took a nosedive during the downturn and saw 50%-60% vacancy, but he says thanks to a partnership with the city, the allocation of tax credits turned it around into the trendy mix of housing, small business and restaurants it is today.

Turner Construction GM Dan Wheeler says this cycle has seen a lot of investment in infrastructure, and he's been working with California Capital & Investment Group CEO Phil Tagami for years on developing the Army Base concept, out putting in roads and utilities to help fill millions of square feet of new warehouse space. Turner just did Gensler's new offices in Oakland.

Swinerton Builders VP Steve Johnson has been a fixture in Oakland for some time, working on smaller TI projects to bigger ones like The Ellington, Jack London Square's luxury condo tower. He says sights are continuing to shift from S.F. to Oakland because there's just more opportunity