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Oak to Ninth?: New Brooklyn Basin Construction Underway ...

Oak to Ninth?: New Brooklyn Basin Construction Underway on Oakland's Waterfront

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,

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.

Building Facade and Strret Frontage Linkage Map in Oakland, Ca

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.

Brooklyn Basin Projected Vision for Oakland, Ca

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.

Oakland, California's Brooklyn Basin, before shot

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.

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Gina Kiani is a Graduate student at the University of Southern California and will complete a Master of Science in Geographic Information Science and Technology in the Fall of 2014. She holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of California...

  • Robert Poole

    Great piece Gina. I was wondering when Oakland would start its development spree. I felt like it couldn’t be too long after San Francisco’s. The next few years are going to be interesting, to say the lease, for the City. Oakland’s housing values have been appreciated faster than San Francisco. 27% over the past year as compared to 22% for San Francisco. And that’s without building anything new. Do you know what the affordable housing or below-market-rate (BMR) requirements are for Oakland? What percentage of these have to be built with every market rate unit?

  • http://www.theglobalgrid.org Gina Kiani

    Thanks Robert!
    There is definitely an influx into Oakland bringing up the market…
    Some call it the hipster movement, others gentrification, it’s maybe a little of both but it is good to see projects that include low and moderate income housing in their development plans;
    As far as Oakland affordable housing or BMR requirements, I am not exactly sure but will be researching this all soon for my Master Thesis in a section for sustainable housing….
    From my initial understanding it’s closely related Area Median Income (AMI)
    Will keep you posted as I progress through it :)

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