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Uber puts $123.5 million Oakland HQ up for sale

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Rideshare company puts brakes on expansion

The plastic just recently started coming off of Uptown Station, the rehabbed and recreated Sears building in downtown Oakland which San Francisco-based Uber bought in 2015 to be its East Bay base of operations.

Now it looks like that much-hyped purchase will fall by the curb without bringing so much as a single job to Oakland, as the San Francisco Business Times reports that the company has put the building up for sale.

The Uptown Station building in Oakland.
The tarps are coming down.
Adam Brinklow

No one at Uber was immediately available to comment on the reported listing. The company paid $123.5 million for the building.

Originally the company meant to position thousands of jobs in the circa 1929 Beaux-Arts building that served as a department store for two generations.

Last year it announced it would cut that planned Oakland workforce to a fraction of the original estimate. And now an even more efficient cut: zero.

Probably not coincidentally, Reuters reported this week that investment by major mutual funds in Uber is down 15 percent since the departure of founder Travis Kalanick as longtime CEO.

Meanwhile, the company reported a net loss of $645 million in the second quarter of 2017. That’s actually not a lot by Uber standards—in the fourth quarter of 2016 its losses neared $1 billion—but perhaps it put the company in a cost-cutting mood anyway.

(No word on what this means for the flying cars yet.)

Rendering by Steelblue

Renderings of the finished building by Steelblue.

While moving out of a headquarters that it never quite got around to occupying in the first place is not exactly a sign that the sky is falling on Uber, giving up on the high-profile purchase does seem like a vivid illustration of how the company’s fortunes and priorities have changed in just two years.

The building now dubbed Uptown Station has sat empty since the departure of Sears in 2014. Presumably the biggest question for Oakland is what will become of its 330,000 square feet of space now that the Uber plan has gone under.

Architect Gensler, which spearheaded the renovation, markets the building as a mixed-use destination aimed at “activating the street level and engaging the community.”