It seems like every time I get into a ride share in Uptown Oakland these days we’re peering out the window at the looming Sears building, wondering what’s going on, talking about what it could be and what it once was. Chatting about Uber’s failure (when in Lyft of course) and waiting for that wrapper to come off. In fact I was one of the last customers to ever buy something from that old Sears store on Broadway. I can remember it so clearly, it was sometime in late 2013, I bought a crappy dishwasher after wandering the semi-barren isles, sunburned by the incandescent lighting reflecting off the checkerboard floors, pegboards already 1/2 empty. The store was eerie, empty and ominous.
When Lane Partners bought the nearly abandoned Sears building for $24 million later in 2014, they predicted a 12-18 month construction cycle, we were all scratching our heads. It seemed like a ton of money for a property in that location. Who would lease it? There was so much vacant retail and office in town. It was a big move at that time and required bold vision for sure. A year later Uber bought it for $123 million and pronounced they would move in and solve all of Oakland’s problems by peppering the streets with tech workers, just add scooters. It was going to be the new Twitter, a mid-market paradigm shift.
Alas, Uber fell on its face for many good reasons, and here we are in 2019. Now Square Inc has agreed to lease the entire space at 1955 Broadway in Oaklaland and give us those tech workers we so desperately need to fill our 8500 apartment units coming on line in the next year. So much has changed in a few short years in Uptown, I personally remain excited about the changing landscape and can’t wait to tour the property.
Hey Square people, please don’t run me down with your scooters, and thank you for not installing a cafeteria!