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20M SF Of Commercial Space, 29,000 Homes Called For In Downtown Oakland

Oakland shown with projects in the pipeline (white) and potential 2040 development (blue)

The city of Oakland's Planning and Building Department has proposed a plan that would encourage up to an additional 20M SF of commercial space and 29,100 homes by 2040.

Oakland City Council received the department's official draft of the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan Wednesday, jump-starting a 45-day public comment hearing on the document before its potential adoption next year.

The city's Planning and Building Department began its draft process in 2015, on the verge of Oakland's ongoing surge in housing development. Oakland currently has 9,304 units under construction and almost 7,000 coming online just this year, both topping counts for any other Bay Area city, Darin Ranelletti, policy director of housing security in the mayor's office, told Bisnow last month

Now, plans for the next two decades call for a doubling of office space and nearly 30,000 additional units in Oakland's downtown. As of 2016, the area had 19M SF of commercial space, and between 2015 and 2017 developers produced 7,176 new homes across Oakland, according to city data. 

A map of potential Oakland development

SPUR Oakland Director Robert Ogilvie said he considers both housing and commercial development to be comparably crucial to Oakland's growth and thought early drafts of the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan didn't specify enough commercial space.

"We don't want to see Oakland cemented as a commuter suburb of San Francisco," Ogilvie told Bisnow. "

"A developer three years ago would have said to you the rents for Class-A office in Oakland aren't there yet and the comps aren't there," he said. "That is not the case anymore."

In its final draft, the city's Planning and Building Department has designated multiple "office priority sites" and recognizes "a regional imbalance of jobs and housing leading to transit overload and inadequate opportunity for residents." 

Such sites, two of which are in City Center and the Lake Merritt Office District, would update zoning in relevant areas to require a certain percentage of space to be dedicated to commercial office space.

"If they build out office space in the right way, downtown Oakland can be on par with Portland or Denver in terms of number of jobs," Ogilvie said. 

Related Topics: SPUR, Robert Ogilvie