Over a decade after the conceptualization of the Oak to Ninth project, the stalled venture newly named Brooklyn Basin, is once again underway on Oakland's waterfront, South-East of Laney College. The infill redevelopment came to a halt during the 2008 recession, though the lacking $1.5 billion of funding was recently secured from a Beijing-based investor, the Zarsion Holdings Group, partnering with the city of Oakland and a joint venture team managing the development. The planning features of the Brooklyn Basin project have since grown to cover sixty-five acres of environmentally-sustainable mixed-use development to include 3,100 residential units, 200,000 square feet of retail and commercial space, thirty acres of parks, public trails, open space, new marinas, and renewed wetlands, while reconnecting southern Downtown neighborhoods with the waterfront.
Among the many frontage features and linkages, residential patios, street front gardens, pedestrian networks of bicycle paths and walkways to the waterfront, are all planned to be buffered with naturally pleasing landscaping.
A key feature of the Brooklyn Basin agenda is a Community Benefits Agreement (CBA), representing developer contributions to the community hosting the investment. Following the recent adoption of the regional initiative, Plan Bay Area, environmental and social justice advocates have converged, making smart growth more aligned now than was represented in the original 2006 agreement. Some of the terms include developer funding for job training both on-site and in neighboring low-income areas, affordable housing in relation to Area Median Income (AMI) to accommodate low to moderate income housing on-site and off, local hiring measures and preservation of specific historical and environmental assets.
Conceptual vision of completed Brooklyn Basin project
The estimate for completion of the plan is set for 2021 with the required infrastructure, from roads, utilities and other services, beginning next year. The first of the four project phases targets the addition of 1,300 housing units, to begin construction in 2015. Though some opposition remains on issues from addressing transportation to the loss of waterfront views for some existing residents, the area improvements are bound to bring more revitalization than the abandoned terminal yards, storage warehouses and under-utilized lots that sit there today.
Images of Brooklyn Basin Project Site taken on September 25, 2013
CBAs are becoming more common in development projects and mixed results of effectiveness are just beginning to trickle in. Are there any CBA's you know of that have measured up with added value, equity and benefit to a community near you?
Credits: Images by Gina Kiani. Additional images and data linked to sources.