By Jacob Bourne
Lennar Multifamily Communities proposes to transform four land parcels in Dowtown Oakland from surface parking lots into a seven-story mixed-use residential building at 19th and Harrison Streets just west of Lake Merritt. The 1.02-acre site is mostly paved over with three surface parking lots bounded by 19th, Harrison, Webster and 17th Streets. LPAS is the architectural firm working on this 256,897 square foot project.[contextly_sidebar id=”idqze71cs3uqyoUrB16IAUH2dtLrWOly”]“We just submitted to the building permits department about two to three weeks ago,” offered Ray Welter, senior project architect, LPAS. “What we’ve heard is that Oakland is so backed up with major projects right now that we won’t get comments back from them until the end of the year. The entitlements are approved. We’re hoping groundbreaking will be in early spring next year; that’s what’s desired, but our hands are tied while we wait for building permits.”
According to Oakland planning staff member, Pete Vollmann, the five-story over two-story podium project was approved last month. The at-grade structure will offer 224 rental housing units and 3,709 square feet of ground floor retail facing 19th Street. The retail vendors are mainly geared towards residents but could also serve office workers from a nearby tower during daytime hours. Two levels of parking will provide 219 parking spaces with 129 bicycle parking spaces, some of which will be located on sidewalk areas. Amenities include a fitness center, pet wash station and a co-working area designed to enable residents to host clients and work onsite with conference rooms and workstations.
Welter remarked that though extensive amenity spaces are limited due to the small building area and infill-nature of the site, a major perk of the development is that it allows for scenic views of Snow Park and Lake Merritt, located a short walk away. It’s also about three blocks from the 19th Street BART Station and in the vicinity of retail, restaurants, bars and arts venues. The project would also be on the same block as another proposed residential building at 17th and Webster Streets. The 1700 Webster mixed-use tower could offer about 206 housing units in a building of 20 or more stories.
“For the facade we’ve put two major materials,” Welter explained. “We’ve used stucco on the backside with the mezzanine setback. The primary material is an aluminum composite panel perforated by balconies and glass. On the corner of 19th and Harrison, there’s a little bit of a different movement. We’ve angled the corner so it’s not 90 degrees.”
The project falls within the Central District Urban Renewal Plan Area originally adopted in 1969 and amended in 2012 and was found to be consistent with land uses identified for the plan area. The plan area encompasses most of Downtown Oakland, including Chinatown and Uptown areas. The plan’s objectives include to revitalize blighted areas by reestablishing mixed-income residential developments and creating associated infrastructure and transit.
“It’s part of an overall push by Oakland to convert surface parking lots in the Downtown and other areas into mixed-use buildings. The City’s effort is to get more people living in these areas by replacing parking lots with residential and retail,” said Welter.
The CEQA Analysis completed determined that the project meets the criteria for a class of projects known as, “urban infill development projects” and as such is exempted from additional CEQA review. The exemption from review allows the project to be streamlined at the planning department level. Construction could be completed as early as 2019.