The tallest building in Oakland

So tonight’s Planning Commission meeting (PDF!) will have an EIR scoping session for the Kaiser Center Project, which I could not be more excited about. The Swig Company, from San Francisco, owns the Kaiser Center and wants to demolish the commercial space behind it and replace it with the two tallest buildings in Oakland. Awesome! Bye-bye, Longs. Bye-bye, 24 Hour Fitness. Hello, high rises!

So this would basically be right behind the Kaiser Center (386 feet tall, BTW). Swig owns the Kaiser Center, as well as the adjacent garage and “mall.” If the project gets approved, the mall goes. In its place, we would get two new office towers. One would be 34 stories, or 436 feet. The other would be 42 stories, or 566 feet. I can’t remember ever being so excited about a development. 1.47 million square feet of Class A office space right here in downtown Oakland with Lake views. It gives me goosebumps!

Let’s see, what else is there to say about this? The Kaiser Center garage would be expanded from 1,340 parking spaces to 2,037 spaces. The new buildings would include 22,500 square feet of retail space along Webster and 20th.

And I know what you’re all thinking. What does this mean for V Smoothe’s favorite open space in all of Oakland, the Kaiser garage rooftop garden?

Will they be demolishing this precious open space treasure and replacing it with skyscrapers? You all can breathe easy, because the answer is No! The garden will be reconfigured, but when it’s finished, it’s actually going to be bigger! 4,564 square feet bigger (for a total size of 127,170 sf). And, one assumes, shadier, what with the two new high rises looming over it. They will also be adding an exterior stairway to access the garden from 20th Street.

You can read the staff report for tonight’s scoping session here (PDF!) and the EIR Notice of Preparation here (PDF!). If there’s anything you want them to study in the EIR, you have until Monday (June 23) to submit your comments to the City.

44 thoughts on “The tallest building in Oakland

  1. Chris Kidd

    Hey, maybe more suitable office space will lead to more residents moving into the “vacant/not vacant” condos we’ve all been kvetching about. Working where you live is the hot new thing in ‘smart development’, right? It’s certainly what I’d like to see. Reduce traffic/pollution/transportation costs/oil dependency, densely populate and renew urban centers, turn commuter cities like Tracy into a thing of the past.

    Still, V: Weren’t you using the example of these buildings to rip NN during the election as the real “developer candidate”? Or were you just pointing out her ironic hypocricy?

  2. David

    I hate to dampen your excitement, but what do you think the chances are that something like this will actually be built? I think I can already see the anti-tall-building forces mustering for battle.

    The links to the staff report and EIR Notice of Prep. don’t seem to lead anywhere.

  3. V Smoothe Post author

    Chris -

    I’ve never been against the Swig project – I love it! I was against Swig giving Nancy Nadel money. How does that make any sense when she claims that she doesn’t want any more high rises near the Lake? I find it incredibly hypocritical that she would attack Sean based on receiving donations from local developers, while accepting large donations for herself from companies like Swig.

  4. V Smoothe Post author

    David –

    I’ve fixed the links.

    I’m not particularly concerned about the project’s prospects – commercial construction in general is less controversial than residential. We’ll see. So far this has been pretty much ignored.

  5. Joanna/OnTheGoJo

    Anytime a Developer wants to build a building with that close of a distance to BART, I’m all for it!

    And David, I think that it may indeed just get built. There is still a demand for Class A office space, and especially within walking distance of major public transportation such as BART. JLS is already talking to many prospective office space tenants for the new building at the Square (Jack London Market, previously known as Harvest Hall) and just like Site C, it is expected that the office space will fill up long before the retail.

  6. Ethan

    V: Your postings beg the question: what is your day job? Do you work for the development community? Orgasmic descriptions of high rises are usually uttered by either architects, builders or people who market for both.

    You are agressively (and thankfully) analytical in all other areas…. but its that “all a-fultter” emotional gushing like a school girl with a crush when you talk about tall buildings that certainly gives one pause.

  7. dto510

    Ethan – V is at work right now (at a downtown restaurant), so I thought I’d jump in. She doesn’t work in real estate or an associated profession. I know it’s hard for the anti-skyscraper crowd to accept, but some people really like tall buildings.

  8. dto510

    I agree that this is an exciting proposal, on both economic and aesthetic grounds. Oakland certainly needs more high-rises. Maybe with a few additions, our skyline can surpass Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on this ranking.

  9. Becks

    Ethan – some of us are just dorks who get really excited about dorky stuff. V gets excited over tall buildings. I get excited over increased bus service (and even more excited about the free bus rides being offered tomorrow). That doesn’t mean I work for AC Transit or that I somehow profit from public transit.

  10. Max Allstadt

    One of the things I find most annoying about city politics is the faction that presumes that anybody who likes new construction must be getting some financial reward out of it.

    We need growth in Oakland. The fact that someone, somewhere, is making a lot of money off of it isn’t all that much of a problem for me. I have issues with the growing class schism, certainly. Forcing a city to stagnate is not the way to solve that.

    Build a forty story office building and somebody will make a boatload of money off of it – maybe. They could also lose a lot. But once the building is there, you can expect it to be used. There’ll be managing partners in law firms in corner offices bringing in 800k a year. There will be admins and executive assistants bringing in 30-80k a year. And there will be people cleaning the place after dark who will hopefully be unionized and making a fair wage. Who wins? Oakland.

    I don’t worry about the top of these buildings. I worry about the base. What’s at street level? That stretch of Webster st. is abandoned after dark. And for that matter, why not out some housing in the towers along with offices. Mixed use! Live/Work/Play neighborhoods. It’s green, and it strengthens the community and makes people happy.

    Seriously, 1.5 million feet and not a single apartment? Don’t they realize by the time they’re done fighting off nimbys and building this project, the market will be back?

  11. Robert

    I don’t see any problem with adding more highrises, but I hope they do something to spruce these up. As sketched, these look pretty boring.

    I was down on the Estuary last night, in good place to look back over the Oakland skyline. And quite honestly, it doesn’t look that interesting right now. At least visually, all the highrises look to be about the same height – boring. So putting in a new one that is 30% taller will add a lot of interest. Just my opinioin.

    Max – Isn’t the proposed Emerald tower within about a block of these? And wouldn’t that satisfy your desire for housing?

  12. Max Allstadt

    Oh! Emerald Views! Hot Potato!

    dto pointed that out to me a little while ago.

    Bear in mind that those sketches are photocopies of elevations. I imagine they’ll look a bit better in perspective color renderings. That said, they do look pretty boring. When I was at the downtown rezoning meeting and I asked Eric Angstadt “why can’t a monolith be beautiful?” I wasn’t talking about what this seems to be. Maybe the planning commission will tell them to pretty it up a bit.

  13. Max Allstadt

    1100 Broadway won’t meet the CBD design guidelines, will it? It’s gorgeous. And green.
    Not exactly a monolith, more of a well dressed box.

    Let’s leave the hot pink and sea green buildings in Tokyo, thanks.

  14. Max Allstadt

    In Miami, they’re in context. I do like those.

    I remember my one and only tour with a rock band, floating in the pacific in march in miami, looking up at some of those beachside pastel buildings.

    In miami, they work. But everything looks alright when you’re swimming in 78 degree water and you’re 24.

  15. Ethan

    Dto510: The site you mentioned ranks the “the best” skylines as having the one having highest buildings in terms of feet. Really? That makes the skyline the “best”? That’s it?? Sillouettes of tall pencils poking in the air? High rise pencils have the imagination of a vertical pissing contest. Probably comes from the same need.

    As for V not working for the biz: you could have fooled me. My wife write advertising copy — we both thought for V had a secret life working for the Mark Company.

    So apologies to V — hope the tips were good — or if she works in the kitchen, I hope she left people feeling fat and satisfied!

    P.S. I love pink and green. I know that make me a wus, but I love the colors of the buildings in the tropics. Let’s increase the color pallatte and be kind to those who surround us — lets build structures that let others have visual access to light and sky.

  16. Ralph

    construction good, high rises better, economic development in uptown and Oakland in general – priceless.

  17. Eric

    Ethan, some of us genuinely appreciate high-rises not because we are excited about profits, but because we are excited about what a tall building and what urban density, in general, represents — a rekindled appreciation for and investment in a part of town that has an awful lot of character and deserves much better, but which has been vastly under-appreciated for decades; the new vitality and people those buildings will bring; and, of course, the environmental benefits of saturating the transit-rich urban core with as intense and diverse uses as it can reasonably support. One building alone can’t do that, of course, but it’s a process. We should not suddenly abandon design principles and good taste without thinking carefully about how a building will interact with all parts of its surroundings, starting with the ground level and moving up to the sky. But to interpret enthusiasm for a new high-rise as being, on its face, per se proof of a hidden development interest is, quite frankly, a bit paranoid and absurd.

  18. Ethan

    Eric: “…the environmental benefits of saturating the transit-rich urban core with as intense and diverse uses as it can reasonably support….” Schwing! Those words are as good as a Playboy magazine fold out to a developer.

    “….But to interpret enthusiasm for a new high-rise as being, on its face, per se proof of a hidden development interest is, quite frankly, a bit paranoid and absurd.”

    Oooooh…SNAP!

    After wallowing through the Mark Co marketing hyperbole trotting itself out as honest “research data” and then see it high fived by V., most folks with a discerning mind would wonder if what the other jobs she holds that she does mention from time to time.

    She is a good writer — why wouldn’t the Mark Company, Emerald Views or any other development company want to hire her? Give her some credit for her abilities, fer Crissakes.

    And I really don’t care one way or another if phallic hight rises float your boat. It does concern me if an owners of blogs are not forthcoming about economic conflicts as they relate to journalistic integrity.

    That said, “Dto510″ and “V’ are sort of joined at the hip in the blog world, and if “Dto510″ says she is a works at a restaurant, then she works at a restaurant.

    So …we all have the opportunity to do something constructive — buy dinner where V works, eat well and tip big….and continue participating in this wonderful, political cyber salon.

    As for the Skyscraper Envy that some of you seem to suffer….well, I’ll let you folks just talk about that amongst yourselves.

    (Kiddin’.)

    I ain’t joking about the pink and green shit though. Time to turn to Brazil for inspiration. Or Ireland. My God, have you seen the color they use for their buildings? It’s mind exploding. I think they use color to serve as a counterbalance to the rain.

    Phallic pencils.

    Feh.

    EBW

  19. oaklandhappenings

    Max, I disagree regarding the apts for a couple of reasons:
    (1) there are already plenty of apt/condo projects in Oakland, and two or three of them may not see completion until…??
    This includes Citywalk and Trojan Tower (ie 14th and Jackson). The problems associated with these two, plus (2) the housing crisis can make adding more difficult. I sure as hell hope that the Forrest project succeeds, especially because it likely meant losing the A’s (and their new ballpark) to have that cool complex there.
    Finally, office towers such as these are best just as office towers; so many tenants are leaving SF and coming to Oakland. It kindof sucks that Swig is from SF, instead of an Oakland group. Then again, I guess for success, it means that the big name has to come from a big city. Oh well–I guess this is Swig’s way of turning their backs on SF for a change! We won the (Dellums) Federal complex from SF, and we will win much more!
    Okay, sorry for sounding completely biased.

  20. oaklandhappenings

    V, I support your excitement, but I am a little concerned that these buildings’ heights may “dwarf” the Kaiser Center too much. Your thoughts? Shoudn’t the KC stand out as well as it does now?
    I kindof feel that perhaps these new towers, clustered with the KC, Ordway, and surrounding towers may be too desne an area for such tall buildings. That is my only concern. Howeve,r if they are extremely attractive buildings and look different from each other, that may help.

  21. Deckin

    Max:

    You were in Miami floating “in the pacific???” Are you using that as an adjective instead of a proper name?

    One of the things I find most annoying about city politics is the faction that presumes that anybody who likes new construction must be getting some financial reward out of it.

    If you look at the General Society Survey, you’ll see that self-described liberals/progressives score higher on indices of envy and interest in money (see this report). So people making money, even if it benefits everyone, goes down rough in our neck of the woods.

  22. Max Allstadt

    ha! mistyped that one. It was indeed the Atlantic. Of course it was the Atlantic, when was the Pacific ever 78 degrees?

    Interesting article. I agree about the envy thing in a lot of cases. As for the rest of it, not so much. Remember that it is from the UK. They have a bit of a different dynamic there.

  23. jarichmond

    I think the original Kaiser Center building will continue to stand out nicely by virtue of its location right on the lake, anyway. I know the rooftop garden on their parking garage is nice, but otherwise, I don’t really think the backside of the KC is all that special. Adding these two towers would definitely make the view from that direction more interesting.

    I also think it’s a good thing to have that many tall buildings clustered around together, especially given that location. It’s an easy walk from BART, plus it seems that it would be really desirable for an office by being so close to the lake. At least I would like to work in a place that would be so convenient for going out for a walk around the lake after work or over lunch. Plus, with all the residential development going in to Uptown, anything that pulls more business into the neighborhood has to be good for giving something better than “easy commute to SF.”

  24. Ethan

    Max: No sweat about the Pacific migrating over the world where the Atlantic usually is. My wife, the copy editor, says my late night postings constant are a trail of tears for her…

  25. Chris Kidd

    Ethan,

    I’m not sure why, in your eyes, anyone who supports highrise construction is either a corporate foil or has penis envy for tall buildings. It may just be that a commenter or two does have conflict of interest, but I sure don’t. What’s more, I take umbrage at your accusation.

    I support highrise construction simply because I think it’s the right thing to do (oh no! altruistic intent! quick, tell him he’s got a small pecker!). I think the world is going to drastically change over the next 30 years. I think that creating dense urban areas centrally located on transportation hubs with sophisticated infrastructure is one of the best ways for us to position ourselves in years to come. This doesn’t mean I want to destroy lakes views or give away sweatheart deals or create soviet-style monolithic blocks or destroy the light and air of the neighborhood. There’s a fine line of balance to tread in building up a viable downtown that also remains humane enough to still attract people. But refusing to build anything sure doesn’t get the job done.

    Also, what would it take for you to stop insinuating that people are in the pay of developers? Financial statements? Tax returns? I just want to get that argument thrown out the door so something more constructive can take its place.

    Since it got mentioned, I’m quite suspicious about the A’s “attempt” to build a downtown ballbark. What’s a better draw for investment and condos and business than a baseball park? My guess is that Mr. Wolf and Mr. Brown had a wink-wink, nudge-nudge agreement on this one. Wolf lets JB know privately that Oakland just ain’t happnin’, targets a site that JB’s already got plans for: this gives JB and Wolf an easy out. JB does him a solid by standing firm on Forest Hills or whatever it’s called. All 3 Oakland site proposals were a joke and were chosen specifically because they had fatal flaws in them. This all gets me quite heated at the owner of the soon to be Oakland Athletics of Fremont of the Bay Area of California of the USA.

  26. Max Allstadt

    From my perspective, it really doesn’t matter if that stretch of Webster gets a little less light. I’m curious about the surrounding area, but that part of Webster is already dark most of the day. And a few urban canyons won’t be the end of the world.

    I would LOVE to see Oakland have at least one equivalent to NYC’s “Canyon of Heroes” or an equivalent to some of the other very boxed in streets in lower Manhattan. It’s only a problem when construction like this ruins parks or smaller residential structures.

    Also, if the planning department is still reading this (I’m doubtful, we’re going off trail like crazy) why not allow sloping facades instead of the base and setback currently proposed?

  27. Chris Kidd

    deckin, that report you linked is just pants (to use appropriate british terminology, considering it came from the daily mail). It’s absolute pants.

    It’s assigns societal value to certain actions that, while they do provide value on the whole, cannot be assumed to be values-oriented in each specific instance by each individual. Also, the back-biting, snippy writing style of the daily mail always turns me off. They’re such a rag.

  28. Deckin

    Chris,

    I’m not a huge fan of the Daily Mail’s style either, but the GSS (General Society Survey) is the gold standard in social science research, and the political preferences were self reported. I was shocked to see the data too, but data is data and this stuff is hard to impugn. The question was simple and the results are clear. If you have problems with the GSS, you’d have to throw out virtually all social science research–and that includes economic surveys of the kind discussed on this site.

    It’s (sic) assigns societal value to certain actions that, while they do provide value on the whole, cannot be assumed to be values-oriented in each specific instance by each individual.

    I’m really not sure what that means.

  29. Max Allstadt

    The only thing I wonder about with the GSS is whether they insisted on a bi-polar political spectrum. There’s a new 4-pole political spectrum and I don’t even fit that one.

    I’m a meat-eating
    gun-toting
    social-safety-net-supporting
    free-expression-loving
    progressive-tax-espousing
    pot-smoking
    sex-positive-strip-bar-loving
    abortion-rights-supporting
    wealth-eschewing loon.

    Am I a liberal by their standards? How does that work?

    now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to munch on some delicious GMOs.
    mmmmmmm…. GMOs!…

  30. Chris Kidd

    Oh, well I was talking about assumptions made such as: getting married is good, having children is good. While those things might be good overall for society, there are many instances where it is not good on the personal level. There are some people who marry when they shouldn’t and CERTAINLY some people who have children when they shouldn’t. Just because an individual is inclined towards something doesn’t necesarily mean they have more value towards society than someone who doesn’t. That’s all. And the more hugs/less hugs part was just stoopid. A hug is not a unit measurement of love given.

    Then again, I hate the Hoover institute with a passion. I’m probably biased against anything one of their ilk publishes.

    Sorry to go off on a tangent, as I’m far more interested in this building discussion we’re having.

  31. Max Allstadt

    Chris -

    If you want to talk about the merits of child rearing, I can get pretty silly.

    Ask yourself this: What’s moving the human species forward faster, genetic evolution, or memetic evolution. The answer is clearly the latter. Don’t bother putting out new genes, focus on putting out new memes. So much for parenthood. Edison had six kids. Does anybody care? Tesla had none and his legacy and contribution are equal if not greater.

    Anyway, yeah – the article sounds like conservative interpretation superimposed on somewhat flawed data.

  32. Ethan

    Loosing out on that downtown ball park site just killed me, too, Chris. Thanks for floating the alternate theory behind the back story. It’s the most realistic one I have heard so far.

    Hey, by the way – I get it that V is not working for the developers — got that when Dto510 set us straight. I was not being sarcastic about supporting her restaurant – whether she waits tables, cooks or owns the damned place – it should be our collective mission to keep her afloat! She is smart as hell, I don’t agree with her all the time – but I don’t care. She has created a place for us to parse out issues and look at the lies and root for the good guys – without pop up advertising.

    Back to my initial take on her lead story that lead you to think now that I suspect all people who like high rises are on the take: in the defense of my household of 3 (my wife, me—the bane of her existence – and my college aged daughter who would like me to emphasize that she is only here on periodic weekends) this was our collective take on her story and the Mark Company research reference.

    It was a lovely family scene – we are reading at the same time – over each other’s shoulders, slurping wine and tea dangerously close to the keyboard.

    Daughter:

    After peering closely at the screen, she pulls back and opined, “Um, well, that was orgasmic,” and then added dryly in way that only a 19 year old could intone, “She must be sleeping with the architect.” And then she wandered off to meet her boyfriend-architect-wannabe at the nearest coffee shop.

    Did I tell you she just got her entire back and her left arm tattooed like a sailor? No?
    Well then, be afraid, be very, very afraid.

    Special shout out to Max: Be happy you are not a parent.
    Be very, very happy.

    Anyway, after my baby girl left, my wife and I had moved onto to the Mark Company web page, read the so-called research data — and I swear this on my dead mother’s grave – we both hissed at the same moment: “Follow the money.”

    Okay. We have been married too long. And, yes, considering my daughter’s current dating material, I may be projecting. Alright. I’m projecting. Also, I am politically jaded, which is my proud right as a baby boomer.

    Here is what I think V’s profile is: she’s an articulate hottie than manages a hip restaurant….maybe dates architects, and maybe not. No matter who she dates, big buildings like her up like a Christmas tree. And she happens to rock as a blogger. My rhetorical question that I am putting out in an almost fatherly way: Why not work for developers? I know some may think that sounds like a back-handed compliment, but from my admittedly aged perspective, why NOT write about what you love?

    Here’s a quote, from our refrigerator magnet to V’s: “Do what you love and you will never have to work again.” One way or the other, blog on, V. Mind you I am too jaded to join the development cheering squad, but there is no rule we have to agree. And that, my friends, is the beauty of it all.

  33. V Smoothe Post author

    Since it appears to be a matter of concern, here’s V Smoothe’s full disclosure.

    I work a few hours a week as a cook in an Oakland restaurant. I write about local politics and development for The Oakbook. I attend graduate school part-time, working slowly on a master’s degree that is in no way related to architecture or planning or real estate. I have a job through the school where I mostly do work relating to distance education, online learning platforms, and educational applications of emerging technologies. Until last November, I also worked in the records department at a small Oakland plaintiff’s lawfirm, and before that I worked as a market researcher for a commercial real estate brokerage in Oakland, and before that (and for a while, concurrently), I was a full-time cook. My undergraduate degree is in Classical History. I am not sleeping with any architects.

    If any developers want to pay me gobs of money to write orgasmic descriptions of their projects for their marketing materials, they’re more than welcome to contact me at v@vsmoothe.com. And readers can rest easy, knowing that in the highly unlikely event that anyone does take me up on that offer, I won’t pimp their project on the blog.

  34. Ethan

    Thanks V. Terri, Ethan’s wife, here, tapping the keys. Sometimes writers are more interesting than the subject they write about… and you, m’ dear, are a case in point. My no-good husband just shouted from the bathroom that if he was a young buck and foot loose, he would date you over an architect any day.

    By the way, my daughter just eyeballed your description and uttered one word: “Dude!” (What ever the hell THAT means these days…)

    Blog on, sister, bog on.

    Terri, Ethan and the Tattooed One

  35. Chris Kidd

    Thanks for the clarification, Ethan. Sorry to have been harsh on you. Before the idiosyncracies of an individual writer are understood, sarcasm, humor and even self-deprecation can sometimes go over as nastyness. My tuners are now calibrated, sorry for the delay.

    And thanks for adding an extra voice. I know it can be tough here sometimes (I remember getting my head bitten off once for trying to defend the city planner’s office).

  36. Ethan

    Terri: “Bog on” ? For all of you readers out in cyber space: this is the first time in personal history I get to — OH SO NICELY — nail my copy ed/wife for a typo. The tables have turned, My Sweet. (He pauses to do a few air pumps for an invisible audience.) In my wife’s defense, she probably got distracted from the Tattooed One.

    Anyway, Chris: thanks, man. I appreciate your being so forthcoming about who you and what you are all about. And V: I am even more respectful of what you have created now that I read your bio and what has shaped your point of view.

    BTW, Terri found some historical references about the redwood tree forest on this side of the ridge and the presence of many logging camps — and actually found a photo of one of the many camps. The url was saved on our home computer so I can’t pass it on now, but will post it here later this weekend. Chris, I believed you weighed in on the subject and said you were a history buff. Even though it gives evidence to the major deforestation of the Redwoods here locally, history buffs are history buffs and I know that you will appreciate it.

  37. Chris Kidd

    Ethan: If there’s some solid evidence, I will shout to the rafters that I was wrong. Really, this all could come from a disagreement on the phrase “oakland hills covered with redwoods”. What I was trying to say was there’s no way the *entire* hills were covered. I’m sure there were some areas that were forested, but the ecological profile of a lot of the oakland hills would preclude such forests. But again, if I’m wrong I will get in some stocks and let you all throw pies at my face.
    I’m sure there were some logging camps and evidence of forests on this side of the ridge, I was more objecting to the concept that somehow old-growth redwoods extended down to lake merritt(this concept may or may not have been a complete assumption on my part). I’m also quite sure that Joaquin Miller DID plant tracts of trees in treeless areas of the Oakland Hills. Whether the Peraltas had cleared away forests in the same area years before they sold off part of their rancho to Miller, I do not know.
    And I’ll have to see these photos with my bare eyes. Photo evidence will only prove one *area* was deforested, not the hills as a whole.

    All of this, of course, is just me hedging my bets so I don’t look like a complete ass no matter what the outcome is. Or does it mean I’ll look like an ass no matter what? Hmmm, maybe I’ll just get in the stocks right now…

  38. Ken

    definitely don’t want a SF financial district mausoleum feel at night, or anywhere outside of “business” days 9am to 5pm.

    but skycrapers, hooray to that.

    just worrisome, sometimes, about how we’ll operate elevators and pump water that high in a low-energy future. this of course plays into STAND-like arguments for 5 story maximums. i guess STAND would not want any downtown financial buildings over 5 stories tall. no world trade centers.

  39. Chris Kidd

    Ken,

    I totally agree about not wanting a financial ghost-town outside of business hours. It’s not an efficient way to use city space and creates unsafe areas when they’re not populated.

    That being said, I don’t think that an area such as downtown oakland at risk of that happeneing. The key, to me, is making sure there are people on the streets most of the time. More people = safe sidewalks, thriving retail, vibrant scene. All the uptown projects going online will provide a large residential population to help balance out the work population (residents in the mornings and evenings, workers during mid-day), and Lake Merritt (beautiful jewel that it is) will provide a large draw over the weekend. It doesn’t matter to me if the office buildings empty out at night and on weekends. As long as there are people to take their place on the streets, things should work out pretty well.

    Hadn’t thought about energy requirements for high-rises… I’m sure there are people here with good ideas to address that.