PRESS RELEASE: Oakland’s Uptown & Downtown Community Benefit Districts Show Steady Business Growth

OAKLAND, CA – During the last several months of 2013, there have been further increases in business growth in the Downtown Oaklandand Lake Merritt/Uptownbusiness improvement districts.  There has also been an uptick in real estate investment activity.

New leases either expanding or relocating from San Francisco include:

  • Gordon & Rees, a law firm that relocated some employees from their San Francisco operation, signed a 24,000 sf lease at 1111 Broadway.
  •, a global community of independent graphic designers and an online store, completed a partial relocation fromSan Francisco and signed a 11,112 sf lease at 2001 Broadway.
  • W. Haywood Burns, a national nonprofit that helps protect and improve the lives of youth of color and poor youth by promoting and ensuring fairness and equity in youth-serving systems, also moved from San Francisco and signed a 5,000 sf lease at 475 14th Street.
  • Food and Water Watch, an organization that works to ensure the food, water and fish we consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced also relocated from San Francisco, and signed a 4,000 sf lease at 1814 Franklin.

Additional notable leases include:

  • The Oakland Unified School Districtsigned a 52,323 sf lease at 1000 Broadway to consolidate several of its existing offices.
  • Vigilent, a leader in intelligent energy management systems for data centers, telcos and large, commercial buildings, previously located in El Cerrito, signed an 11,000 sf lease at 2001 Broadway.
  • Umami Burger, a gourmet comfort food and cocktail restaurant, signed a 3,000 sf lease at 2100 Franklin Street.
  • Field Day and Friends, a boutique selling handcrafted clothing, gifts art and more opened at 329 19th Street.


As a result of the growth of commerce in businesses in Downtown Oakland, the commercial office market is now beginning to take off as well.  One of the signs is an institutional investor, Strada and its capital partner Angelo Gordon& Co., purchasing two office buildings within Oakland’s City Center. The firm bought the 11-story 1300 Clay St. and the 12-story 505 14th St. that together total 367,357 square feet and are about 90 percent leased. Earlier Harvest Properties and Prudential acquired 555 12th street, also within Oakland’s City Center.  (The attached chart created by Jones Lang LaSalle details changing institutional ownership of Oakland’s City Center and Downtown Oakland).

Commenting on recent San Francisco relocation trends, Bill Nork, Senior Vice President, Managing Director
Cornish & Carey Commercial
Newmark Knight Frank,said “We are seeing a steady stream of San Francisco tenants looking for Class A locations with easy BART access at a fraction (50% or more) of the cost of a similar San Francisco location.” Nork added that these figures are taking into account not just rental rates but business/payroll taxes and the overall cost of doing business.

Upon their arrival into the districts, these new businesses will be able to utilize many new neighborhood improvements that have been sponsored by the Lake Merritt/Uptown & Downtown Oakland district associations.  Included in these improvements is the recently opened Latham Square pedestrian plaza, back of BART planter boxes, newly landscaped street medians, BigBelly trash compactorsand more.

The Downtown Oakland and Lake Merritt/Uptown District Associations were formed in February 2009. Property owners in both Downtown Oakland and the Lake Merritt/Uptown Districts voted by a margin of almost 8 to 1 to support a voluntary property tax to fund services that would improve the quality of life in their respective communities. The associations meet and function jointly. Services funded by these Districts include maintaining cleanliness and order in the public rights of way, improving district identity and advocating on behalf of the area’s property owners, business owners and residents.  In June 2013, the districts were recognized by the International Downtown Association (IDA) and named the IDA’s June Downtown of the Month.