By Jacob Bourne
A surface parking lot at 1431 Jefferson Street in Oakland could become a combined Marriott AC Hotel and Residence Inn if a proposal by project sponsor, 1431 Jefferson LLC, is approved at an upcoming Planning Commission hearing on July 19. Former owner and current chairman emeritus of the Oakland Athletics, Lewis Wolff is one of the project’s investors. Wolff is also CEO of Wolff Urban Development, LLC, though the entity isn’t involved in the hotel project.
“One of our partners had owned some of the land at the site and wanted to see if they could maximize the potential offered by Oakland’s Downtown,” Wolff commented. “We acquired some additional parcels to get full frontage along Jefferson between 14th and 15th Streets. We’ve been working on this for over a year and hope to get it approved.”
The project would combine four parcels designated as Central Business District in the General Plan. In addition to the parking lot, a small convenience store on the site would be demolished to construct an 18-story, 209,000 square foot hotel reaching 198 feet with a total of 276 guest rooms. The ground floor features 1,600 square feet of retail at the corner of Jefferson and 14th Street as well as lobbies for the two Marriott franchises. An attached parking garage will provide 98 parking spaces for the hotel use.
Floors three through 11 will house 143 Residence Inn rooms designed to be studios and one bedrooms geared towards extended visits of between one and 30 day periods. Floors 12 through 18 will contain 133 Marriott AC rooms featuring high end finishes and amenities for shorter term guests.
Wolff views the project as a long term investment into Oakland’s Downtown. He acknowledged the dearth of hotels in the city, commenting that sometimes hotels are approved but never end up getting built. The development team has voluntarily agreed to utilize union labor including for parking attendants and valet service.
“I’m a big advocate of Oakland; it has everything going for it but was bypassed in prior years — it’s in the shadow of another city that I can’t remember the name of,” Wolff said partly in jest. “It’s not bypassed anymore. Oakland has great transportation and a great climate — what more could you want?”
Stanton Architecture is the hotel’s designer. The firm’s literature states, “The project will compliment the Downtown high rise neighborhood. The hotel also will benefit from its close proximity to public transportation, making it an ideal home base for extended stay tourism.”
Fehr & Peers conducted a Transportation Impact Study and released findings in June concluding that, “The proposed project is consistent with applicable plans, ordinances, and policies, and would not cause a significant impact by conflicting with adopted plans, ordinances, or policies addressing the safety and performance of the circulation system, including transit, roadways, bicycle lanes, and pedestrian paths.”
The site is less than a half-mile from the 19th Street BART station and several major bus routes. Its Downtown positioning also gives it strong access to parks, retail, theaters and Lake Merritt. If approved, a 24-month construction period will begin in October of this year.
According to a recent report from Atlas Hospitality Group, only one hotel has opened in Alameda County so far in 2017. Five hotels are currently under construction and 29 are in the planning pipeline for the County.