Former Mayor Jerry Brown was able to see the future and thanks to him we are living it here in Oakland. His 10K Housing Initiative bet heavily on the future viability of our downtown (referred to as Uptown) neighborhood and nobody realized how important it would become until now. Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood was recently named the number one “great neighborhood” in California by the American Planning Association.
Jerry Brown’s initiative considered the needs of the city and public residents. The project revolved around proximity to transportation and has fulfilled its goal to create a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with a multitude of housing types. When I use to drive down Telegraph examining the vacant swaths to condos and unused open space, I often wondered what and when the pay off would come. It surely has begun to change dramatically from the desolate unused square blocks it was just a few years ago.
Just earlier this month in SF Gate, Oakland realtors named Uptown one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the Bay Area with prospective tenants rushing to swoop up any vacancies. A wide variety of residents are now calling Oakland home, young and old, wealthy tech workers and struggling artists alike. The variety of housing options such as victorian homes, repurposed historic buildings and renovated mixed-use industrial type properties add to the diversity and desirability of the area. Oakland’s Uptown can now demand $1 million pricing, which was unheard of just a few years ago, or anytime in history.
The APA voted Uptown one of the best places to live partly due to the smart, green development. The Uptown Residential Development Project is an urban mixed-use renewal project that offers a combination of 1,200 mixed-income apartments and student housing with retail and open space. The project is designated as LEED Silver-certified partly because of the way it repurposed unused land in an urban environment.
Another terrific feature of Uptown is how the neighborhood flourishes in the arts. Home to the Fox Theater, The Paramount Theater, the New Parkway Theater and the New Parish, in addition to authentic events like the First Friday Art Gallery Walk and the First Friday festival. Additionally there is a still-underway Dan Corson-created LED exhibit at the 19th Street BART exit and a sculpture garden in Art Park.
Uptown has been revitalized and is finally coming into it’s own. Just take a drive down Telegraph and notice the people lingering around Rudy’s Cant Fail Cafe. Or walk through the towering sculpture garden at Art Park. Oakland’s Uptown is emerging as a world class neighborhood after laying dormant for 15 years. We owe a big thanks to Jerry Brown, I shutter to think what this gem would look like without his vision and leadership.