Smart Growth was excited to be a part of the 3rd Annual Oakland State of the Market event held on February 23, 2016 at the Scottish Rite Center. The turnout was around 550 people – a clear sign of the interest that Oakland is getting these days.
Oakland’s Mayor Libby Schaff was the keynote speaker and touched on the need for more housing units including much more affordable options to accommodate the growing population in Oakland and the natives that are being pushed out by high prices. Mayor Schaff expressed her dedication to keeping the city’s culture alive while also working with developers to be able to efficiently produce new products. Local developers touched on their concern with the City of Oakland’s planning department’s lack of efficiency and organization during the approval process as well as the negative effect that proposed impact fees will have on future developments.
Chris Porto, CEO and Founder of Smart Growth, moderated a panel of top developers focusing on the future of office in Oakland. Members of the panel included Drew Haydel of Lane Partners (Uptown Station), Jason Morehouse of Ellis Partners (180 Grand), Awais Mughal of Harvest Properties (Leamington Building), Nick Orton of Orton Development (Kaiser Center) and Mike Keely of CBRE.
With the Broadway-Valdez Specific Plan providing a clear path for new residential units to come online and the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan currently in the draft phase, developers noted that the city is preparing for an influx in population, both workers and residents, even more so than what is currently being experienced. Oakland is becoming a huge attraction for demographics across the spectrum seeking a place where they can live, work and play while being a more affordable option compared to neighboring cities.
Companies have identified the characteristics that millenials especially are looking for (e.g. proximity to transit, an arts & culture scene, top restaurants, etc.) as the appeal of having their home base in Oakland. According to Mike Keely of CBRE, Oakland’s vacancy rates for commercial space sit at around 3.5%, which is the lowest in the country. He made it clear that this time around companies are looking to set up shop here because it is a place to be rather than simply an alternative.
The tone was overall positive with developers focusing on breathing life back into the city by the reactivation of street level activity at their upcoming projects. This was a clear sign to Chris that top developers are seeing the value of “smart growth” and are endeavoring to implement the principles behind this movement.
Watch the video below for clips from the panel. Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more to come on Oakland real estate, smart growth development and an insider look on our projects and adventures as we work to catalyze sustainable development. We promise we’ll work on our video skills!