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Oakland Catches The Building Boom Bug

Eden Housing President Linda Mandolini and Bay Rock Multifamily CEO Stuart Gruendl

With 3,000 for-rent multifamily units under construction and thousands more in the pipeline, a housing boom has hit Oakland. Neighboring Berkeley also has built 1,500 to 2,000 units in the trailing 24 months. Big employers are moving their offices to downtown Oakland.

“I’ve never seen this type of production,” Bay Rock Multifamily CEO Stuart Gruendl said during a recent Bisnow event.

Oakland is building its first four to six high-rises in years, which Gruendl said he never thought he would see.

This level of production, which did not occur during the last three cycles, is due to extensive planning, according to Gruendl.

Among the biggest challenges to all this growth of the East Bay is that BART is 20 years behind its infrastructure obligations. Many people are living and working in the East Bay or commuting to San Francisco, making BART an integral part of transit-oriented mixed-use developments in the East Bay.

“We’ve got to strengthen our infrastructure to maintain the production of deficit housing,” Gruendl said.

With such a huge demand for housing, more units need to be built around transit stations, he said.

Oakland also has been experiencing a burgeoning food scene and the city is pushing for more retail development. The only problem with relying on restaurants to fill in ground-floor spaces is restaurants are sensitive to any rental increases and are prone to high turnover. Big retail tenants are moving into Uptown Oakland, but if those large tenants vacate, a plan should be in place to repurpose that space, Gruendl said.

Find out more about development in Oakland at Bisnow's The Future of Oakland on Oct. 5.