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Oakland City Council Escapes Protesters, Green Lights Potential Land Deal

Mixed-income high-rise proposed for plum Lake Merritt parcel

The San Francisco Business Times’ Roland Li reports that the city of Oakland moved a deal with two local developers for a long contested plot of city-owned land near Lake Merritt forward last night, despite protests.

The 6-1 vote transitions the city into the negotiating phase, as Berkeley’s UrbanCore and Oakland’s East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation prepare to buy the land at 12th Street and 2nd Avenue.

Previously, UrbanCore wanted to build a market rate high-rise on the same spot, getting the goat of Oakland housing activists, whose protests shut down a vote on it last spring. Vocal locals wanted an entirely below market rate building built, and since it’s the city’s land they saw this as an opportunity to hold out until such a deal came along.

The original proposal, dubbed simply the Lake Merritt Tower, would have been 298 market units, plus 2,000 square feet of retail. What everyone is now (most likely) going to get is a mixed-income building that splits the difference between developer and protester expectations—or thirds it, actually, with 360 proposed units, 108 to be affordable housing.

Activists did try to disrupt the meeting, according to Li, but the council (who have been down this road before) moved to another chamber and proceeded with the vote. There’s still a long way to go before any project gets final approval, though, including at least two public meetings.