By Nancy Amdur
Downtown Oakland may soon receive a boost in its housing inventory as Portland-based developer Gerding Edlen looks to build a 206-unit residential-and-retail tower at 1700 Webster St. Also, the city’s planning commission last week approved a 33-story mixed-use high-rise at 19th Street and Broadway proposed by District Development, LLC, which will add 345 residential units to the neighborhood.[contextly_sidebar id=”0g7aydvhYIeIULLtqWbpNafahYhuYV3i”]The 1700 Webster St. plan calls for demolishing the existing two-story building on the site, now occupied by the American Cancer Society, and constructing a 24-story building with about 6,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and/or restaurant space and a 206-space parking garage, according to a city report about the project. Retail space would front both 17th and Webster streets. Residences would span 18 stories, and there would be four stories of podium parking above the ground floor. Architecture firm Perkins + Will in San Francisco is working on the project.
Construction is slated to begin this year with building occupancy planned in 2017. The project is under a public comment period until Aug. 17 and likely will be approved by early September, said Scott Miller, the city’s zoning manager. Gerding Edlen did not respond to a request for comment.
District Development’s 1900-1944 Broadway project will include about 10,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space and 333 parking spaces. The project’s studio, one- and two-bedroom residential units are designed as apartments “with flexibility” to be condominiums, said Seth Hamalian, managing principal of San Francisco-based District Development.
It will sit on one now vacant and one underutilized lot. Emeryville-based architecture firm Brick, LLP is designing the project, which will include a tower clad in precast concrete with glass window walls, metal panel and brick, according to a city report about the project.
The developer also plans to restore the historic four-story Tapscott Building next door to the residential high-rise. The building will be incorporated into the overall project with residential units above ground-floor retail. A 20-foot wide outdoor courtyard will separate the new construction from the Tapscott Building. District Development is in discussions with capital partners and aims to begin construction on the project during summer or fall 2016, Hamalian said.
Adding housing to the neighborhood is a “positive,” said John Dolby, a senior vice president at real estate firm DTZ in Oakland. “A lot of people are moving downtown,” he said, and there is a need for more housing. Apartment vacancy in that neighborhood is less than 5 percent, Dolby said. These projects also are conveniently located near the 19th Street-Oakland BART Station.
Additionally, more retail is welcome in the area, said Steve Snider, district manager of the Downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt-Uptown District associations, which are community benefit district corporations committed to revitalizing downtown Oakland.
“[The] retail will fit beautifully into the neighborhood,” he said. “We need to continue to fill [the area] up with great retail in order to help support the growing retail scene that’s here already.”
The neighborhood is home to well-known Vietnamese restaurant Pho 84, Snider said, along with sandwich shop Stag’s Lunchette and Spice Monkey, which serves international cuisine. The art-deco Fox and Paramount theaters anchor the district.
“If we get more foot traffic down here, more residents…more stores will open, more restaurants, more bars, more entertainment venues,” Snider said. “It will be a much more vibrant place even five years from now. You’re going to see that momentum.”