Ryan Tate's best East Bay articles of the past year
These are my best East Bay real estate stories written within the past year for the San Francisco Business Times. This list was last updated December 29, 2006.
The Business Times only covers exclusive stories in its print edition, so the stories below can be considered "scoops" unless labeled otherwise.
- Oakland crime spreads
Businesses grapple with 'lawlessness out on the sidewalk'
Echoing concerns of downtown companies, businesses throughout Oakland are increasingly alarmed over a rise in robberies and other crimes and a reduction in police foot patrols.
City merchants called a meeting with the police chief, have hired private security officers and are even trying to revive a program under which they could patrol the streets themselves. Some neighborhood groups believe there has been a reduction in business as a result of the crime spike, while still more are worried sales could suffer if the problem is not addressed.
San Francisco Business Times, February 10, 2006
- Developers, candidates see different worlds
Jerry Brown's Oakland legacy has never looked so fragile, nor his succession so uncertain.
Developers are getting cold feet on thousands of unbuilt condominiums counted toward his 10K downtown housing program, declared a settled triumph four months ago.
A persistent crime wave is driving longtime residents from the city and worrying large employers and merchants.
And Brown's hand-picked successor, City Council President Ignacio De La Fuente, is trailing in his race with longtime Congressman and lobbyist Ron Dellums, who as mayor would pointedly dismantle the market-rate development pipeline Brown has constructed. A third candidate, Nancy Nadel, shares many of Dellums' views on development.
The rapid change in the Oakland climate has rattled key developers, some of whom are sounding frightened alarms over Dellums' lead in the mayoral race. With each passing day, those alarms seem to have become more high pitched, making the city's mayoral race look more and more like the opening skirmish in a war for the future of Oakland.
San Francisco Business Times, Oakland Structures special issue, May 12, 2006
- Oakland eyes tallest tower, Willie Brown
Builder: The city's 'answer to the Transamerica building'
A San Francisco builder and architect are proposing Oakland's tallest-ever tower on Lake Merritt, 42 stories of condominiums rising 420 feet.
The builder, David O'Keefe, said the tower will go in next door to another San Francisco export, former mayor Willie Brown's political institute, although the institute's executive director said she was aware of no such plans.
The roughly $140 million tower has already come under fire from at least one community group for its size and location, but is not expected to face significant legal hurdles. An extension of an earlier plan by O'Keefe for a 32-story tower, it would be by far the tallest building in the city, surpassing the 28-story Ordway Building. O'Keefe and architect Ian Birdsall see the height as an asset.
San Francisco Business Times, September 8, 2006
- Oakland mayor finishes 10K race in record time
After seven years, Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown will finally reach his goal of 10,000 new downtown residents under building plans approved by city officials last month.
The city now has 6,003 downtown housing units completed, under construction or with planning approvals, exactly three units beyond the goal originally set by Brown. Two highrise housing projects approved by the Planning Commission in December put the city over the top.
The mayor is pushing hard to spur construction on approved units before he leaves office in one year, since his replacement may not be as friendly toward development.
San Francisco Business Times, January 13, 2006
- Oakland mayor criticizes candidate Dellums' economic plan
Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown has issued a strong criticism of mayoral candidate Ron Dellums' economic development plan.
Dellums is unlikely to meet his "100K" goal to bring 100,000 new workers and residents into downtown Oakland because he vastly underestimates the difficulty of building office and condo towers in the city, Brown said in an interview with the Business Times. The 100K proposal is a key plank in Dellums' platform for growing the city.
"It is not in the cards," Brown said of 100K. "It would take a revolution to make that possible."
San Francisco Business Times Web update, June 1, 2006
- Development drawing retailers Uptown
Massive Oakland project pulls in stores, bars, restaurants
With Oakland's large Uptown housing project now under construction, retailers and developers are scrambling to fill up the surrounding blocks.
Development firm Metrovation plans to renovate and add retail to the office building it recently acquired at 2201 Broadway, just two blocks away from Uptown. Rick Mitchell, owner of bustling Luka's Taproom, recently agreed to lease space for a wine bar across Broadway from Luka's near West Grand Avenue.
Directly across the street from Uptown, where 665 units are being built, the restaurateurs behind high-end Oakland Mexican restaurant Doña Tomas are planning a new bar and restaurant. A new Italian-themed cafe, Lenza, opened earlier this year near 17th Street and Telegraph Avenue.
San Francisco Business Times, September 22, 2006
- Lennar scraps Oakland housing deal
Cooling market, new housing law doom block-sized project
Lennar Corp. has canceled a contract to buy a full city block in Oakland for between 500 and 850 units of housing, raising questions over whether the city's downtown development boom is losing steam.
With condominium sales cooling in the East Bay and the Oakland City Council poised to impose affordable housing requirements on new projects, Lennar's move has been widely scrutinized by developers.
The specifics and cost of the affordable housing rules are still being decided, but they are expected to require at least 15 percent of units be sold at below market rates and to exempt building permits issued in the next 18 months. With Oakland's planners swamped with work, that grace period would likely be too short for Lennar, a city development official said.
San Francisco Business Times, May 5, 2006
- Talk of the Town: Bridges heading out of Oakland?
As new Oakland mayor, Ron Dellums needs to focus on building bridges. Instead, rumor is he soon may be losing one: That would be Jerry Bridges, executive director of the Port of Oakland.
Word coming out of Virginia is that Bridges is a lock to be offered the executive director's job at the Port of Virginia, which oversees docks in four cities, including Norfolk and Newport News.
Back home, word coming out of Bridges' office -- at least, from a source close to it -- is that he's considering it. Bridges once worked in Portsmouth, Va., as a terminal manager, but observers believe his decision could hinge more on a reading of Oakland political tea leaves than on the pull of the past.
San Francisco Business Times, Talk of the Town section, October 27, 2006
At the Business Times, I cover not only East Bay real estate but also the hospitality industry, including the business of restaurants and hotels. You can see more published writing at the main articles index.