Now about that Coliseum…

So I said in Friday’s post that if we were to build a new stadium for the A’s in Oakland, the best place to do it would be near the Coliseum. Of course, the question is kind of academic, because the A’s aren’t going to stay here, but that doesn’t mean we need to leave the Coliseum area a total wasteland forever. In fact, all the things that makes it an excellent location for a ballpark also make it perfectly primed for other kinds of development.

So, the ballpark village proposal that A’s owner Lew Wolff unveiled back in 2005 is often described as being in the Coliseum parking lot. It wasn’t, it was adjacent to the parking lot, just north of the Coliseum, starting at 66th Avenue and bounded by San Leandro St., High St., and 880. The original rendering looked like this:

If you’re having trouble getting a sense of where that is, here’s what the area looks like now:

It would be an improvement, no? Now, that plan never worked out. Some (including me) believe that was because Wolff never had any intention of making it work in the first place. The less conspiratorial explanation would be that the cost of acquiring all the parcels in the space was just too high.

Changes in the real estate market since 2006 mean that the land acquisition cost would be significantly cheaper today. That, of course, wouldn’t change the fact that there are a number of light industrial businesses in the area that would have to be relocated if anything were to be built there. This shouldn’t present too much of a barrier, since Oakland is lousy with available industrial property, but it is something to consider nonetheless.

So getting the site together would take some effort. It would be more than worth it. There are few sites in Oakland so well-positioned for development, where you could assemble this much land relatively easily, and that have such excellent access, by both freeway and transit.

Oakland has a lot of great things going for it, but one thing we definitely don’t have are adequate hotel rooms or a decent conference center. The Convention Center at the Marriot downtown is dank, awkward, dated, and generally just straight up sad, and totally inadequate for most conference needs. The City Council wants to up the hotel tax by 3%, but knows that doing so will bring in only a paltry $3 million a year because we have so few hotels. Our inability to accommodate conventions and large numbers of visitors means we lose out on millions of dollars in potential revenue every year.

Now, we could solve both these problems by building a nice new convention center along with some more hotels. There’s no room downtown to do that, but there’s plenty of space in East Oakland. I’d love to see a plan to develop this “Coliseum North” site as a hotel/conference/entertainment complex. Since there’s no existing “neighborhood” to speak of, you’d have almost total freedom to invent the character of such a development from scratch.

An airport-proximate hotel and conference center would boost visits to Oakland and would dovetail perfectly with one of those entertainment complexes that most cities have but Oakland is sadly lacking. I’m thinking of something like Houston’s Bayou Place or Los Angeles’s Hollywood & Highland Center (although the latter is a bit more upscale than I envision for Oakland). But you all know they type of place I’m talking about. They have a couple of moderately upscale, high capacity restaurants, theme restaurants, maybe a movie theater, a bland nightclub or two, and some kind of non-music based adult entertainment option – Bayou Place has a pool hall, Hollywood & Highland has a Lucky Strike (I would love a Lucky Strike in Oakland!). And then some kind of medium sized theater space.

Those sorts of businesses don’t mesh with the character of downtown Oakland, and they wouldn’t fit into the new Jack London Square, next to Miette and a new Daniel Patterson restaurant, but that doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a place for them in Oakland. They’re non-threatening to tourists, a draw for suburban types, and have much higher sales than the smallish restaurants popping up all over town, which means more revenue for the City. Also, this type of project would generate enormous numbers of those much-sought after jobs.

There’s a couple barriers to my vision, but none are insurmountable. One, the site isn’t that close to the Coliseum BART station, and you’d probably need to build an infill station like a mile away. But if freaking Dublin can have one, I don’t see why we can’t. Two, the land has train tracks running through it. Again, not an insurmountable problem, but working around it limits flexibility in site design to some degree. Finally, the area is zoned industrial. The City could easily rezone the area, but whether the political will to do that exists is questionable.

Now, there’s nothing about this sort of development that would prohibit a ballpark – in fact, one would fit in perfectly. But the great thing about it is that it would work equally well without one, and the inevitable departure of the A’s wouldn’t damn the revitalization effort whatsoever. The City doesn’t need a final project or developer in place to make a commitment to redeveloping the area – they can move forward with land acquisition anytime they want, start looking for interested parties, and put the final pieces in place later, just like they did with Uptown.

34 thoughts on “Now about that Coliseum…

  1. Coolhand Luke

    I really like this idea and hadn’t seen these plans before. It really would be a great boon to East Oakland. I’m tired of people writing it off and dissing it. That said, those negative sentiments about the area still exist and could be a barrier to drawing a lot of folks. Hopefully a plan like this wouldn’t create a big shiny development that doubles as a ghost town. As such, I feel a stadium would be pretty necessary to anchor the project. It would be great if the stadium could also host concerts to bring folks to the area.

    I think housing development in the area would also be great, but agree that there is a need for hotels in Oakland that aren’t by the hour hooker dives. All in all I like this though. Was an EIR ever completed?

  2. James H. Robinson

    This is an excellent plan. Any development in East Oakland should be welcomed.

  3. dto510

    The Coliseum and the area adjacent to it has enormous redevelopment potential. It is a transportation hub served by AC Transit, the airport, Amtrak/Capitol Corridor, and BART, not to mention a major freeway. The East Bay as a whole is under-hoteled, and most of the hotel rooms are in Emeryville, which is not a good location for most businesses. There is no contemporary convention center to speak of in the entire East Bay. And with the region prodding cities to concentrate job growth within the densest areas, Oakland needs to start thinking big in term of employment potential. A development anchored by the Coliseum and Arena (without or without a ballpark) and a convention center could hold include at least a thousand hotel rooms and a million square feet of office space, as well as hundreds of thousands of square feet of dining and entertainment retail.

    Rebecca Kaplan made improving the performance of the Coliseum and Arena part of her City Council platform, and as Oakland’s representative on ACTIA, has some leverage over the airport connector project. Ignacio de la Fuente appears eager to at least try to woo the A’s, and he knows as well as anybody else that the Coliseum is the easiest site. Larry Reid has actively sought retail and job growth in the Hegenberger Corridor. A Coliseum / Airport redevelopment (an Aerotropolis, if you will) fits neatly with existing priorities and plans, and as I said before, if we don’t start committing our millions of RDA funds now, the state will steal them next year.

    Another example of successful entertainment retail centers is LA Live, which is anchored by the Staples Center, home to five professional sports teams. It’s smaller than what we could do, but it shows how sports can anchor such a development.

  4. Ralph

    I still want to see something in Uptown but I am biased, let E.O eat cake. That said, I am reluctantly willing to make a sacrifice for the good of the whole, but will the flight patterns create a noise disturbance that will detract homeowners?

  5. dto510

    What I, and I think V also, are envisioning is a ballpark and convention center-based development that gets its revenue from hotel rooms, office space, and entertainment retail. Not housing. It’s a better fit with today’s market, and wouldn’t compete with O29.

  6. Navigator

    This development, while great for East Oakland, would doom downtown Oakland. A convention center in East Oakland, along with more hotel rooms, would take the focus off Oakland as a city, to a suburban location far from downtown. The center core of the city is what needs to be developed. I’ve never traveled to any city and been curious or fascinated by what’s out by the airport. Great cities use their downtowns, their theaters, their historic architecture, and their restaurants to draw visitors and create a certain synergy and vitality. That’s where the charm and culture of cities reside, not in the suburban fringes out by the airport.

    There already exist many suburban style hotels on Hegenberger near Oakland International. Oakland needs urban high rise hotels downtown and by the waterfront. There are still plenty of surface parking lots in downtown Oakland. A city with great architecture such as in Old Oakland, Uptown, and Preservation Park, should use those assets, along with it’s ethnic districts like Chinatown, as a way to grow its hospitality industry.

    Moving the convention center to East Oakland, along with promoting hotel growth in that area, will destroy Oakland’s soul as a city. It’s inconceivable that a city with assets like Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, Chinatown, Uptown, City Center, and Old Oakland, has only one high rise hotel downtown. This is absolutely ridiculous. We need to address this issue before we go on a tangent about building more hotels in East Oakland. We need to build the convention center and ballpark either in downtown, or on the waterfront, and start filling those ugly surface parking lots with first class hotels.

    Oakland always manges to sell itself short. Great cities have great downtowns. Great cities are not centered around the Airport.

  7. KenO

    I would argue that infinite retail and entertainment do not make a real economy. That is a Las Vegas mentality and not diverse enough. However, some would be good. And why not create it here, so people don’t go far, far away for entertainment services? Bread and circuses… fitting for the Coliseum green zone.

    If I were King, I would…

    * first, study how sea level rise and earthquakes would affect any type of development in East Oakland; if everything’s cool then:

    * reduce the number of 880 highway lanes to 2 in each direction and add express BART tracks that skip every 4-5 stations (and make Coliseum one of the express stops);

    * build housing, malls and office space on 1/3 of the existing Coliseum parking lots. add a rollercoaster and spa-based theme park above and integrated into the office space. (I’ve seen this done in Tokyo by the Tokyo Giants stadium there);

    * open up 1/2 of the remaining parking lot area for parks, open space and community vegetable gardens, with fruit trees throughout. let nonprofits like people’s grocery lead the gardening efforts;

    * add a bicycle factory, streetcar factory and other industrious work spaces to the remaining parking lot area. Oakland is very bike friendly. The streetcar factory would build and maintain streetcars for SF/Oakland. heck, even open a chocolate factory. build up a foodie strip with the remnants of wonderbread, mother’s, mother goose and numi.

  8. dto510

    Navigator, many cities (including San Francisco) have dense aerotropolis-style commercial neighborhoods around their airports, and most big cities have more than one job center. Downtown Oakland does not have room for a large convention center, and though there are many surface parking lots downtown, there are fewer than ten big enough for high-rise office towers or hotels (and of course developers want to build residential towers as well). A high-rise hotel and office district at the Colieum, anchored by a convention center and the sports facilities, would not doom downtown Oakland, but it would dramatically expand Oakland’s potential for future job growth. If anything, having a convention center and a thriving hotel business anywhere in Oakland will make it more likely for hotels to open downtown.

  9. Max Allstadt

    A stadium is a destination, and as such setting one up on the periphery makes much more sense than setting it up on a surface street artery or on a hub.

    The JLS site makes sense as a destination. As a matter of fact the biggest problem JLS has is that there’s no reason to go there most of the time. It’s a square that’s not at the center of anything. Putting a stadium next to it would be a boon.

    The Coliseum site also makes sense because it’s a destination.

    The Broadway site is totally non-viable not just because of scale and because of Ryan’s house, but because Broadway is a surface artery. Put a stadium there and every time there’s a game or an event, Broadway, Webster, Harrison and Telegraph would be horribly clogged with traffic. Clogged arteries are no good at all.

  10. Coolhand Luke

    I agree with dto510

    Developing East Oakland, doesn’t mean downtown is spurned. And quite frankly, not every project should be focused downtown. Many major cities have different pockets of development and they don’t detract from their downtowns, they just make them more dynamic metropolitan locales. And having hotels in the East doesn’t mean there can’t be any downtown in the future either.

    Ken O’s vision is very “pie in the sky” but we do need more than just a commercial and hotel district in the Coliseum area. I can see it being empty like Jack London square if we don’t diversify the projects there.

  11. dbackman

    There is definitely room for the development of East Oakland in the overall vision for the city. In fact, it is essential for Oakland to take it to the next level. A development of this scale at the Coliseum will not compete with Downtown because it will offer very different resources, with DTO for business, nightlife and high-density residential, the Coliseum for sports, entertainment, retail, exhibition and hospitality. If anything it will help the downtown forge a better connection to points east, which I think is one of the more important planning projects the city must undertake in the coming years. With such strong transportation connections along this axis, there is no reason why these two zones could not begin to work in tandem to create a much more vibrant economy for the whole area.

  12. Marine Layer

    Is a convention center such a good idea? While the East Bay make lack convention facilities, the Bay Area as a whole does not. Moscone – 700k sf. Santa Clara – 262k sf. San Jose – 223k sf and a hotel tax hike and redevelopment funds ready to fund an expansion. Oakland – 64k sf.

    Convention centers are incredibly expensive projects. The SJ expansion is $300 million and it won’t significantly increase floor space. How big and expansive do you want this project to be?

    The only convention center I can recall that was built outside a downtown is the Georgia International CC, which is near Hartsfield Airport.

  13. dto510

    I really do think Oakland and the East Bay need a real convention center, both to serve indigenous businesses and to provide a lower-cost alternative to SF and SJ. It doesn’t need to be top-of-the-line, but our existing center can’t even hold the events that are already there (notice how the hallways are always full of exhibitors?). I’ve heard business leaders and other Oakland advocates agitating for a new convention center for years, and it would perfectly complement a sports and airport-based Coliseum redevelopment plan, because all of these anchors attract travelers and thus hotels. The convention center element provides the ability to attract more office space, making the development more of a 24-hour district and ensuring job growth beyond the DTO. As dbackman says, it would be a different and complementary commercial center to downtown. There is already a Class A high-rise office building there now, by the way (the Trib is there).

    The reason convention centers are usually downtown is because that’s where the transportation hub is, and the hotels. But Oakland doesn’t have many hotels downtown, and the Coliseum’s transportation access is arguably even better than downtown’s (they don’t have a ferry, but Amtrak and BART share a station, freeway access is more direct, and there’s of course the airport link). A convention center, combined with the Arena and Coliseum with or without a new ballpark, could attract a huge amount of hotel, office, and retail development as part of an integrated, large-scale redevelopment plan. It’s an opportunity we don’t have anywhere else in the city, or anywhere else in the East Bay.

  14. Tony

    With a new convention center Oakland will one up SF’s aging Moscone Center, which is in need of upgrades. I would love to have WonderCon in the East Bay.

    Ooh, I want a Dave & Buster’s too.

  15. Tab

    Wait, talk of a stadium to keep the A’s is an irresponsible fantasy, but a plan with zero public support to buy out 60+ existing property owners and businesses for a Convention Center in the middle of nowhere (relatively speaking) isn’t? Hmmm…

  16. oaklandhappenings

    This may be a bit of a tangent (sorry if so), but what about the possibility of the Kaiser Convention Center becoming remodeled/renovated and used again? I know how old it is, but does it have enough space for the exhibits that people are saying don’t work at the Marriott Conv. Ctr? The KCC is not at the heart of downtown, but still by a BART station, a soon-to-be redone pedestrian site around Lake Merritt (measure DD–whenever the hell THAT ever gets completed), the museum, and still only between a 5 to 20 minute walk–or short bus ride–to many city amenities.
    As for the East Oakland site, I am for whatever helps Oakland–especially east Oakland. I am not thinking of the stadium at the moment, as great as it would be for the A’s to have a park there…and an infill BART station, which I agree, can be done.

  17. PinoyOaklander

    The KCC doesn’t have the sufficient funding for it to be remodeled, and renovated. For the Coliseum North Proposal. That looks great! It looks very good, and I can think of a lot of benefits for funding this kind of project. East Oakland doesn’t get much good projects, and it’s time to start putting more attention towards East Oakland in order to connect it more with Oakland. Right now, each main areas of Oakland doesn’t feel very connect to one another. I.E. Lake Marritt Downtown Oakland Jack London Square West Oakland, etc. The neighborhoods are very split up, and I think the City planners should do something about making the neighborhoods feel more connect to one another.

  18. Steve Lowe


    Let’s put aside all the crime stuff for the moment, as there’s really not a whole lot any of us can do about in time to save the A’s from leaving Oakland, which the more clueless among management would clearly love to do. What can be done is to reposition the Coli in everyone’s mind as a Bay Area asset.

    If there’s cowpasture out in the middle of nowhere, it’s pretty much just that to most of the people passing by. Out in the middle of Nevada, the appropriately-named Bugsy Siegal saw a desert mirage that dwarfed even that of the Latter Day Saints and was able to convince a bunch of connected characters that Las Vegas made sense. They spent the money, and today people actually leave their homes and fly to this spooky necropolis – ostensibly one of Oakland’s main rivals for the affection (or is that defection?) of the A’s. And the vision attracted the money because the investors (with just a little arm-twisting by Bugsy) could almost see Vegas built out. Certainly they saw a lot of flashing lights…

    So the Coli is mostly just another cowpasture to most of us these days because it is obviously in need of an extremely extreme makeover before anyone will begin to respect it again – owners and fans alike. It requires some basics, mostly a brand new ballpark. But that means that more parking also has to be created to make up for all the spaces which will be lost in the construction of the new ballpark. So right there you’ve got two new buildings added to the two that are there already, and – viola! – we have the area in between that has to be improved somehow in order to make the transition from one large structure to another more pleasant, better planned and always in use.

    That means either a green, park-like area, or more of the bleak cement wasteland that’s there now, or a retail area that will generate real jobs and offer customers something to do before and after a game besides stand in the cold with shivering kids while waiting for the crowds to disperse. Now this can be done on the cheap by bringing in some doofus “master developer” who knows nothing about retail development (usually what Oakland ends up with), or we can actually find someone with actual, demonstrated retail success who won’t sell us out by leasing up nothing but big name chains so that no one can tell the difference between the Coli and Anytown USA. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to see that the (joint) powers that be don’t fall into the trap of thinking they alone know what’s best for Oakland and end up leaving us with some low-bid bottom feeder who will deliver exactly the same kind of double-ugly urban ubiquity that has come to define America so much over the last several decades. (And though this would be the right place to throw in Forest City, let’s put that aside for the moment, as well.)

    So where we are is at the point of getting a commitment from JPA that an investment has to be made – with the implication that bonds will have to be sold and a campaign kickoff to educate the electorate as to why such a sale is in everyone’s best interests, even those, like Jerry, who could care less about sports, one of the largest employers in Oakland!

    Should we continue to discuss other possible sites? Yes, indeedy! Should we think of trading the A’s for the Arkansas Bedwetters? Well, maybe. The main thing is that the Coli retrofit is the most plausible venue for keeping the A’s once you’ve totaled up all the things working in its favor – as opposed to all the things not working for any of the other potential sites. No matter what, we’ve got to keep the Coli on track, lest we lose the best opportunity we have because we insist on dithering on about stuff that, in the end, is mostly immaterial. Can we continue to grouse about the lost opportunity of the Uptown location (just as I do with respect – or lack of same – for FC)? Sure! But let’s keep our main focus on getting the policymakers to understand that the Coli is way high on any list and has to be shown to Lew (and his 90% partner!) as the best possible option for him, for the team, for the fans and, most of all, for the Oakland community.

    Yours in perpetuity,

    – S

  19. Coolhand Luke

    Thanks Steve. I appreciate your determined and realistic optimism. What are your connections in terms of rekindling site development plans? I think the more folks who understand Oakland and do that grunt work the better. It shows our “representatives” that we care and hopefully eliminates the bottom-feeder master planners you speak of. Thanks again

  20. V Smoothe Post author

    Marine Layer –

    I wasn’t suggesting something that would compete with the Moscone Center, I don’t think we need anything nearly that large. You’d want to do a feasibility study to determine ideal size, but off the top of my head, I was thinking about something in the neighborhood of 200-250kk sf. The existing convention center in Oakland is completely insufficient to meet our own needs, just in terms of supplying space for local conferences and events. A mid-size modern facility would place us in a position to be competitive for out of town business with facilities in the South Bay.

  21. R Kaplan

    Because there is no shame in trying….

    I have called Lew Wolff, and we had a good conversation. He seemed pleased, and a little surprised, at my call. No specific promises were made on either side, but we are planning to talk again in person too. Been very busy lately with Council/budget stuff, so waiting to get into this topic in more detail a little later, but at least I wanted to let people know that I think revitalizing the Coliseum area (with restaurants, hotel/conf center, shops and more) is quite possible and could be a wonderful thing for Oakland, and finding a way to keep the A’s in Oakland is not impossible (and revitalizing the Coliseum area can be an effective, financially positive goal regardless), and I have also had some preliminary conversations with County leaders about these goals, and they are interested in working together on it, and I will be meeting with them further. More updates probably in a couple weeks. -RK

  22. oaklandhappenings

    RK, you RocK! Way to go on your efforts! This is exactly what we didn’t see (enough of) with Oakland govt during the Shott/Hoffman years, or the Brown administration.

  23. Frankie D

    I agree with Steve as much as I would have liked a nice urban infill park downtown like (Wrigley or Fenway) or something on the waterfront opposite ATT, right now the best option is the coliseum and improving the surrounding area. One thing I would love to see go is that horrible bridge that links BART to the Coli. Its mind boggeling why that thing has remained so long and the land beneath it has stayed industrial use. The city should take advantage of all those hundreds of thousands of pedestrians that walk that corridor all year long. Expand the bridge with shops on either side. Get the Western Air Museum to relocate from the north field and park all those vintage aircrafts beneath the bridge. Or blow the thing up and start with a whole new approach from the BART side to the Coli. Restore that wetlands beneath it and develop some open space. There is more than enough room to support all three teams on the Coli land and still provide adequate parking and ancillary uses and openspace. The location is a regional transportation link with all the infrastructure in place.

  24. Steve Lowe

    Wow! I don’t know who this R. Kaplan is (can’t be Oakland’s newest Councilmember, because the expectation at City Hall has always been that, by remaining aloof, the sports franchise owners will eventually all come crawling, hat in hand), but calling Lew Wolff out of the blue – and getting a civilized response, yet – has to be a real first for Oakland. Maybe there’s hope after all!

    Even more interesting is the idea of getting County leaders involved and taking down the wall that was erected during the Jerry years. The Supervisors whose Districts extend to Oakland have always seemed ready to help out with the Coli, but the Fremont-linked Supe had real concerns that the A’s might make good on previous threats and leave the County altogether, making him a champion for Fremont and therefore unable to stick up for the Coliseum during this latest ketfuffle. But everything has changed since the recent turndown in South County, and it could well be that we can emerge from this with a united Board of Supervisors, each urging Lew to suspend his ill-gained aversion to the Coli and see a new, retail-oriented vision from the community’s refreshingly non-Nimby standpoint.

    With the Mayor’s new Sports & Entertainment Task Force as an additional resource, Oakland can emerge as a full-blown team of policymakers, citizens and business leaders, even more united than ever – at least on this particular issue. The trick, it seems to me, is to make sure things don’t go all turfy somehow, with different groups competing with one another for Lew’s attention instead of everyone all on the same page and thoroughly coordinated. But so much of the Coli’s position in all this has to do with critical transportation issues, High Speed Rail being the most compelling, that the biggest hump to get over may require more effort on the part of all of us than just about anything else, especially with San Francisco having already bought into its vision for HSR – to the almost painful exclusion of Oakland.

    I believe that the mysterious Mr. Navigator (a handle emanating from the movie of the same name?) raised a lot of these issues a few whiles ago, emphasizing that HSR is designed to serve mostly Silicon Valley and San Francisco here in the Bay Area, even though the population of the East Bay is greater. Why Oakland is to be bypassed entirely by HSR and not derive a single penny from the infrastructure upgrade that the West Bay will receive seems more a political derivation than anything to do with economic development. And the consequences we will have to live with are simply another example of how elitism still rules in these parts. I really like Obama, but if he’s trusting that taxpayer dollars should buoy up MTC’s list of favorites – more than $70M for the bogus Airport Connector, folks! – just because staff loves the smell of pork smoldering in the morning, then we’re all in deeper trouble than we thought.

    HSR should come down the Altamont Pass, stop at a new Grand Central station in Union City, and everybody can take BART from there, whether to San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, San Jose or anywhere else on the line as it eventually circles the Bay. Instead of committing $B’s to HSR’s purchase of new rights-of-way through the Bay Area, let’s use what’s already here and improve it to the point of being a leader in urban transit again. For all the money that would otherwise be spent on HSR through the Bay Area, new features such as BART Express can be installed, and the Bay Area’s economy can begin to rebound immediately – instead of ten years from now.

    And, yes, some of that HSR funding will have to go into the Coliseum BART station as one of the eight or so BART Express stops that an improved system would have to undertake. There’s more, of course, but let’s see what other folks, particularly those from the Mayor’s Transportation Task Force, have to say.


    – S

  25. Ralph

    RK, an Oakland’s voter wet dream, a council member who actually does something…i am giddy like a schoolgirl

  26. Navigator

    Way to go Rebecca!

    However, please don’t allow Mr. Wolff to use Oakland as leverage for a deal with San Jose. Also, be aware that Commissioner of Baseball, Bud Selig, does not want the A’s in Oakland. He was quoted as saying some years back that , “The A’s coming to Oakland was a horrible mistake because they hurt San Francisco.” Lew Wolff may appear to be the charming kindly gentleman, but he’s a businessman first. We need to make sure that any negations with the A’s are sincere. Lew Wolff has played too many games with Oakland and its fans. If he clearly does not want to be here, then Oakland needs to redo that sweetheart lease, and even consider eviction if Oakland is to be used once again as a stepping stone to somewhere else.

    In my humble opinion Oakland NEVER had a chance to retain the A’s before the Fremont plan went full speed ahead. If this is indeed an opportunity for that ballpark to be built in Oakland, it will be Oakland’s FIRST shot at retaining its beloved baseball team. There are many factors working against Oakland as I write this. None of these factors have anything to do with the viability of the city of Oakland as a viable location for a successful baseball franchise.

  27. Steve Lowe

    Remember that the whole of Washington is aware of Ron Dellums, from Obama and Biden to Bill Clinton and Al Gore to Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Boxer and they will most likely want to help balance the equation if Bud Selig or anyone else is going to insert their own political biases into the mix, especially if there are going to be Stimulus funds directed toward the Coli as a reasonable expenditure for the common good. Plus which, the ball is more in Lew’s court (or diamond), and we will be showing him the Coliseum in a different light than he’s seen before.

    Remember also that he himself was enamored of the (overambitious) “Basesball Village” concept that his own development company drew up three or so years ago. It required that the entire industrial area north of the Coli be rezoned for residential and that the City pay for the relocation costs, including the land, as I remember. Lew would buy it back at some price,of course, but the time, dollars and anguish were just too much to make any sense.


    – S

  28. Navigator

    Steve, I’ll agree with you that Ron Dellums is well known in Washington. However, we have to remember that Ron put his money on the wrong horse. Ron supported Hillary. Though, I doubt that Obama would hold that against Oakland. Our San Francisco representatives, I’m not so sure about. Remember that their was talk of Senator Feinstein introducing a bill to help keep the Forty Niners in San Francisco. She never showed any interest in the fact that the A’s were making plans to leave Oakland for Fremont.

    Also, that previous plan which Mr. Wolff talked about for the area between 66th Ave. & High Street was a public relations stunt just to say he gave Oakland a chance. Mr. Wolff never followed up. How many times did Wolff show up in front of the Oakland City Council the way he did in Fremont? Also, the business owners around that area were never contacted by the Oakland A’s. I have a feeling that the presentation given by Mr. Wolff to Oakland officials was more designed for the consumption of Fremont. In fact, the Mayor of Fremont was present at that same meeting which was to promote this so called development in Oakland. This thing was doomed from the beginning, and Wolff knew it. Wolff even threw in a BART station for the site to make sure it would never happen.

  29. oaklandhappenings

    Nav, off subject here, but I think the whole Dellums/Hillary saga is a thing of the past. He has brought up his gratefulness in Obama several times since the election, and I am sure that Barack has been addressed by him. Even before the Hillary supporting, Dellums warmly welcomed Barack to Oakland 2 years ago at the City rally.
    With that said, I think that whatever Dellums can do via congress to help Oakland and the A’s situation will show this year. Yes, we were f-d by the Bush administration, who didn’t give Dellums squat.
    More on the A’s– although the coliseum stinks to many, one thing won’t stink at all– having some quality offense in that lineup, provided Cab and G-Par don’t get hurt. With the other off-season moves, and a hopefully developed pitching staff, this team may fill seats in the coliseum after all..

  30. MayB/JuanC

    For this or any similar type of proposed retail development for Oakland, the city can refer to Inglewood’s success with Village at Century/Hollywood Park Marketplace.

    This was a major retail development that opened about 2-3 years ago and has been a resounding success. It includes a diverse set of retailers and restaurants including Ross, Bed Bath & Beyond, Office Depot, Target, Staples, Bally’s, Red Lobster, Starbuck’s, etc.

    Inglewood’s demographics are similar to East Oakland’s. Inglewood is approximately 42% Black, 45% Latino, primarily working class but also middle class and poor. It borders LA and is surrounded by other cities that – superficially and by conventional/stereotypical standards – appear more attractive to business. It also has had to deal with the “crime perception” problem. Remember the movie “Grand Canyon” and the subsequent uproar from Inglewood citizens and officials. BTW, the same PQ crime index that ranked Oakland #5 in the country ranks Inglewood at #95 just at bit above San Francisco at #102 (amazing considering the demographics).

    Immediately to the north of the retail development a housing development was built – Renaissance Homes. It was strictly a single-family home development with homes first intended to sell for $400,000 but ended up being sold for $600-700,000 because of demand at the (bubbled) time. There is more mixed housing retail development planned on the site of the Hollywood Park Racetrack that will be soon closing:

    If Inglewood can pull off these types of developments with 1/4 of Oakland’s population and less economic and ethnic diversity than Oakland, it shows that size and demographics aren’t a deterrent. In fact, the Coliseum area should be able to support a development like L.A. Live (next to Staples Center and the LA Convention Center, and a very highrise hotel currently under construction), and the Inglewood-like projects could fit in other parts of Hegenberger or elsewhere in East Oakland, or even West Oakland.

  31. Steve Lowe

    Well, there’s a great space for a Convention Center / Exhibition Hall close to already-built amenities and only ten or twelve minutes from downtown SF by BART – and it’s right at the epicenter of the BART system, the Oakland Wye!

    For those who may be BART-challenged (and who among us isn’t at some level?), the Wye is where the lines converge underground pretty, much at Broadway and 5th, right where the County’s Social Services and Probation Department stand today, buildings that many believe have outlived their usefulness on the one hand and are, on the other, hardly architectural masterpieces.

    Erecting a new building at that site while upgrading the Wye (approaching its 40th birthday, it’s too old to adequately accommodate the existing number of trains today, and will be even more outdated when San Jose comes on line) can give Oakland its signature building with a footprint almost four blocks long and a real anchor for retail up and down Broadway and throughout the entire Jack London Area, not just the rather pedantic Square itself, but the whole of Oakland’s historic waterfront.

    Such a new building will reconnect the historic areas of Oakland that were separated from one another when the Nimitz was built back in the ’50′s when Ike was President. Chinatown to the Ironworks area can be a pleasant walk, connected through the vast atrium-like ground floor, as can the transition from Old Oakland (c. 1865 – 1888) down to Oakland’s equally historic (c. 1916) Produce Market. Like the I. M. Pei pyramid at the Louvre, bringing these older areas of town back together can provide the best possible stimulus for the retail revitalization of Lower Broadway.

    Take a look at the ArtsGarden in Indianapolis, employing the same kind of dynamic that repositioned that city as the hub (okay, one of ‘em) of the Midwest:

    And there’s more: maybe tomorrow when I’ve got more time!


    – S

  32. dto510

    Steve Lowe – it’s true that the County buildings at Broadway and 5th have great potential for reuse. But I don’t think there are four contiguous blocks there, unless you mean building over Broadway. The hotel development needed to pay for the convention center would be hard to squeeze in the immediate area, and the net increase in ancillary office development would be minimal. Upgrading the Wye is a fiendishly complex and frighteningly expensive prospect that is currently not on the MTC’s radar screen. I don’t see a downtown convention center as a short or medium-term possibility.

  33. Marine Layer

    There’s a major difference between the Hollywood Park deal and the Coliseum. Hollywood Park’s land deal was simple and completely private. That will not be the case in East Oakland, whether you’re talking about dozens of private landowners north of the Coliseum, or the publicly owned Coliseum complex. Either of those are much more politically difficult for Oakland to be involved in than Inglewood with Hollywood Park, in which the city could basically be hands-off.

  34. Steve Lowe

    The Wye is a can of worms that BART obviously doesn’t want to address – while still, however, planning for more extensions all over the Bay Area. More trains coming through Oakland (BART is supposed to go to Crockett one of these days remember?) and continuously deferred concentration on the weakest link in the system: let’s wait for the big one and fix it then; is that the real mindset of staff?

    Assuming, however, that a comprehensive plan could be put together looking forward to BART ringing the Bay in year 2020, and all of its parts whole, wouldn’t it make sense to start mending some of its more obvious faults? My belief is that making BART the feeder to HSR means that the funds that would otherwise get spent on HSR as it passes from the periphery of the Bay Area into San Francisco could go to BART instead. That colossal amount of money could then begin being spent tomorrow morning on needed upgrades to a system that is almost 40 years old and pretty much super-dysfunctional before it even opened for business (its failsafe computers failed on day one, if I remember correctly).

    So the HSR money goes into (a) BART Express, allowing some stations to be bypassed so that passengers can be guaranteed they’ll be anywhere in the Bay Area within a half hour, (b) station upgrades, a makeover for the more oppressive BART stations which, instead, could look and feel more like the convivial European stations that everyone loves, (c) a new stop at Jack London Square (actually, at 4th & Broadway where the County buildings are, just a three block stroll to the Square itself), (d) repair of the Wye so that it can handle the traffic that now backs up the system sometimes as much as an hour a day (figure in lost productivity as an economic development factor when remedied), (e) etc.

    Folks, that’s immediate shovel-ready relief for the Bay Area that won’t have to wait for an HSR ribbon-cutting ten years from now when that system is finally completed from the Bay Area to LA (14 years, actually, due to all the lawsuits and other stuff yet to fall from the sky…

    Now to the fun part: Broadway! Yes, the four-block footprint has to include a span of Broadway: not just your common, everyday, two-bit span, but something really great, starting at mid-block and arching up three stories to allow in the maximum amount of sunlight so that anyone beneath it, walking or driving, will feel inspired by the lack of constriction that now exists when traversing the ominous blocks beneath the freeway. And that, too, becomes part pf the experience, as the new building will have entranceways that integrate the freeway’s mass and, winding around it, makes it seem to disappear into the new structure’s glass and steel exoskeleton.

    Flanked by parking garages on either side – and those accessed directly from the freeway – Oakland’s new Exhibition Center / Exhibition Hall can include state-of-the-art features that will make it the greenest building in the Bay Area, as is entirely appropriate for the very center of the BART system, the entranceway to Oakland and the one, exemplary smart growth public building with its own BART stop.

    Plus which, there’s the Toy Museum!

    More on that next time…

    – S