601 City Center Oakland Finishes 30-Year-Old Development, But Signals A Less Diverse City

(Last Updated On: June 12, 2018)

UPDATE: 601 City Center Oakland Marketing fears to obviously show black Oaklanders.

fills in the last giant hole in a larger project called City Center. Established 30 years ago, City Center is the end result of a California urban renewal project that started back in the early 70s, when then- Redevelopment Agency Director John Willams, oversaw the removal of the largest group of Victorian homes in that part of , ever. (And is the reason “Preservation Park,” next door, has that name.) It was a move that was controversial, and the bad feelings about that exist to this day for some.

The erasure left 12 undeveloped blocks of property that halmarked ’s economic development problems of the time, all caused by institutional investor racism. Fear of the then-60 percent black casued development money to avoid Downtown for years.

But that started to change in 1988, when Bramalea Pacific Development Company proposed City Center. This author was an intern at the Office of Economic Development and Employment and fresh out of Berkeley’s Planning School in 1987. There was an excitement around the City Center Development project, and because it’s full model, with each block filled in by a building that exists today, was a statement on ’s future.

Now, today, is the last major building to be constructed in City Center, as it was envisioned back then. It’s a hallmark moment missed by the City of because what collective institutional memory our city had is largely gone (and due to a rash of changes from Rank Choice Voting to the destruction of California Redevelopment Law, which used to finance economic development projects and counter investor racism) and replaced by the old racist tropes about and the Black Panthers, as if that was the only thing will ever be known for. But I digress.

Yes, is the completion of City Center, but in that, it comes with a couple of messages one disturbing, the other funny.

601 City Center Oakland Needs Black People

Needs Black People

This is the disturbing message: the building by The Shorenstein Company has architectural renderings on its website that forget Oakland ever had black people! Why this is done, and considering the “BBQ Becky” Jennifer Schulte and “Jogger Joe” Henry Sintay problem Oakland has today, is beyond me. The website of the building openly has these images that show renderings only of white people using the building. That should be changed. It’s a horrible statement in a society that has come to expect and demand racial diversity.

This is the funny message: that 375,000 square feet of space is available, making the building the largest emply space of its kind avalable in Oakland or San Francisco. At a time when the office vacancy rate in ’s around 5 percent, that means one thing: the space is overpriced.

It’s amazing how often real estate brokers over-price their office space when there’s demand for office space in the city. They’re going to have to come down a bit, in my view.

And embrace showing black people in Oakland.

Stay tuned.

About the Author

Zennie Abraham
Zennie Abraham is the CEO of Zennie62Media