By Jacob Bourne
A small 0.14-acre parcel at 2500 Webster Street in Oakland is currently home to Oakland Mitsubishi dealership owned by Chris Kwei. Signature Development Group, working with YHLA Architects, is proposing a plan to demolish the existing building and construct at six-story, 35,585 square foot mixed-use building in its place. The project is located within the Broadway Valdez District Specific Plan area and falls under the General Plan designation of Central Business District.
“The project is a 30-unit residential development with ground floor retail so it fits within the Broadway Valdez District Retail Priority Sites Commercial Zone,” explained Maurice Brenyah-Addow, planning project manager. “The residential component is good in that it provides transit-oriented development units right in the Downtown so residents can contribute to nearby businesses. Being close to transit will hopefully decease the need for cars.”
The CEQA analysis was completed and a public notice was issued for the project on May 19 with the deadline for public comments on June 5. Planning staff had several meetings with the developer and architect and resolved all outstanding design issues. If there are no issues that arise from the community feedback, planning staff will subsequently review the project for a final determination.
“We know the property owner through another transaction so this was prompted by the relationship,” commented Paul Nieto, executive vice president, SDG. “Because of our involvement with a project across the street, this was a logical extension. We’ve been incrementally doing developments around The Hive and are gradually creating a kind of Hive District within the Uptown District.”
“The Hive and Broadway projects are all mixed-use developments with a good concentration of retail,” Nieto added. “For this project there’s a good amount of retail on the ground floor with 30 units above, which will add to the vibrant street scene. We think this project is a good fit for the area and that adding more residential units to this district is important.”
Across the street from the project on Broadway, SDG is proposing to redevelop another existing auto dealership and outdoor sales lot with a three to six-story residential building and ground floor retail. As the Broadway project is larger in scope, it will require a Planning Commission public hearing.
The Webster Street project is proposed to be 85 feet in height and will require a Conditional Use Permit given the retail use, as it exceeds the 45 foot height limit for the area. The residences will be a mix of 15 studios and 15 one-bedroom units with access to 2,667 square feet of common space including a roof deck and communal area on the second floor. The retail will front Webster Street and feature glass, porcelain tile and metal finishing. The design of the residential floors will incorporate painted fiber cement panels. Nieto described the design as a combination of urban townhouse and warehouse to pay homage to the historic district and blend in with surrounding conditions. No vehicle parking will be offered but there will be 30 bike spaces as well as a bike rack on Webster Street.
“This is a small site and the units are catered for the more affordable end of the market. So there’s a good amount of studios and one-bedrooms but no two-bedrooms because it’s a small site. The setbacks required didn’t lend to having larger units,” said Nieto.
The developer is hoping to break ground in the first quarter of 2018 contingent upon weather conditions and the approval schedule. A 24-month construction period would follow with an estimated completion in 2020.