An ambitious mixed-use complex anchored by major professional sports teams in Oakland still faces plenty of financial and other hurdles in its path toward groundbreaking. But in recent days, the massive Coliseum City project inched closer to reality after the basics of a financing agreement have been reportedly worked out.[contextly_sidebar id=”E5BSFcj4t1aFK6jHdGsaJ9l60vFnvd1K”]“Most people don’t believe it can happen: Where’s the money going to come from, and what pro teams are going to commit?” said Ed Del Beccaro, East Bay managing director for the Houston-based real estate services firm Transwestern. But because of the apparent financing deal, Coliseum City is “more real than a year ago.”
If or when the project does happen, it could make Oakland’s dream of being a vibrant regional and international attraction rivaling its more world-renowned neighbors of San Francisco and Silicon Valley come true.
A draft environmental impact report released Aug. 18 offered specifics of a grand vision that would transform a large underused and isolated area at and around the existing Coliseum complex and would send development ripples beyond the new neighborhood’s borders.
This vision would integrate sports, retail, entertainment, housing and hotels all within an 800-acre district bounded by 66th Avenue to the north, San Leandro Street on the east, Hegenberger Road on the south and San Leandro Bay and the Oakland International Airport to the west.
“If it happens, it’ll improve property values, people will upgrade, and there will be new retail, housing and support functions,” Del Beccaro said. “It becomes its own growth catalyst over a five-mile radius.”
Darien Louie, executive director of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, acknowledged that Oakland and the vicinity are “hard to brand worldwide” unlike San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
But that could all change with Coliseum City. The area right now does not offer much retail and restaurants, Louie said, but “if Coliseum City is built, there’s an opportunity to start changing” the economic landscape in the East Bay.
“Coliseum City would bring more of the office market into the area,” added Rishika Das, a research analyst for the real estate services firm Colliers International in Oakland. “It would bring more available new Class A office space. A lot of it right now is Class B.”
The Coliseum City Master Plan detailed in the draft EIR calls for a football stadium of up to 72,000 seats, a 39,000-seat baseball park and a 20,000-seat basketball arena. It would include 5,750 housing units, nearly 8 million square feet of industrial, retail, commercial and office space and three hotels with a total of 875 rooms.
The plan also features a transit hub to improve the links involving BART, the under-construction Oakland Airport Connector and other transportation modes.
The area would see about 7,000 residents and 20,000 new jobs by the time the project is built out, possibly in 2035.
A group formed by Dubai-based Hayah Holdings and Colony Capital, a private real estate investment company in Santa Monica, seeks to build the $2 billion project.
However, questions have loomed over the project, especially since Oakland’s major sports teams—Raiders football, A’s baseball and Golden State Warriors basketball—are considering or already planning a move elsewhere.
But Zach Wasserman, an attorney representing the backers of Coliseum City, told the San Francisco Chronicle earlier this month that the project’s proponents, Oakland negotiators and the Raiders have hammered out the basics of a financing agreement.
The deal would give the Raiders free land and have Oakland and Alameda County pay off $120 million that they still owe for the 1990s renovation of the existing Coliseum, which would be razed, the Chronicle report said. Construction costs would be covered by revenue generated by the project, the National Football League and other private sources.
Wasserman could not immediately be reached for further comment.
The potential deal makes Coliseum City more tangible than it ever was. “That adds credence” to the project, Del Beccaro said.
But even if no sports team commits to the project, Louie said, the athletic sites could be used for commercial, retail or various other purposes. “It’s still land to develop something,” she said. She sees developers capitalizing on the project’s available space, especially when it’s near transportation connections and corridors such as the airport and Interstate 880.
Improved transportation elements will be key to the project’s ultimate success. Das noted that right now the area is difficult to access and far off a BART station. But the transit hub and completion of the connector linking BART’s Coliseum Station with the airport would ease access and help spur development in and around the project area, she said.
“Transportation is going to be the big factor because that will help get people to that area,” Das said. “The [building] vacancy has been high, but if the area becomes more accessible, large users will move over there.”