Central Station

The Bay Area's Newest Destination

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Found Treasures on PCL Site

While clearing the way to start construction on the PCL site, we found some bottles left by those who occupied the space before us, many of which date back as far as the late 1800s. Still in excellent condition, these historic bottles offer us a glimpse into the lifestyles and culture of the Pacific Coast Cannery, and intrigued us to do some further research on the significance of these found treasures.

The first of the bunch is a bottle labeled as Dr S Pitcher's Castoria, later known as Fletcher's Castoria. This may sound familiar since Castoria is still being sold today under the pharmaceutical company Mentholatum. The contents of Pitcher's Casotria, a combination of senna, sodium bicarbonate, essence of wintergreen, taraxicum, sugar and water, creates an oral remedy made to soothe the stomach of children.

Aside from its cathartic qualities, Castoria was the subject of one of the most significant campaigns in early mass advertising, many of which are still visible today on the streets of New York. In fact, during the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, it was said that Castoria ads were visible on virtually every blank wall in sight. It seems that this effective advertising made it all the way to our neighborhood in Oakland!


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Discovering Prescott-Oakland Point

NovoMetro is doing a series on some of the hidden gems and hip happenings in the Prescott-Oakland Point neighborhood, which is home to Central Station. Here is the first piece they wrote on internationally acclaimed sculptor Bruce Beasley, who has made his home and studio in the neighborhood for 40 years. He's recently been commissioned to do a piece for the Beijing Olympics.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Dog Washing Station at Pacific Cannery Lofts

I've had golden retrievers since the 1970's. Yes, I was one of those people who took their dog to class or on campus whenever I could. Jones, my current golden is often in need of a bath so I take her to the local laundramutt (aka Petco) for a bath. I recently went to buy my tokens and found that the price of a dog bath has gone up to $15 a pop. Wow!!
Pacific Cannery Lofts will have a dog washing station for use by all homeowners and their pets with hot and cold running water and dog shampoo. We need to thank Jones for the inspiration for this one.


The Clocktower Connection

I went on a tour last week with Rick Holliday that started at the Emeryville Warehouse lofts, then went to the Pacific Cannery Lofts and finished at the Clocktower in San Francisco. All are Holliday Development & David Baker + Partners communities, and they all share some key characteristics, from the interior courtyards to a wide mix of well designed lofts.

As we walked through the Clocktower, a for-sale flyer was outside one of the lofts, listed for $899,000. I had literally been standing at the Pacific Cannery Lofts 10 minutes earlier, walking through a comparable loft that when finished will likely be $450,000. Both have the exact same architect (whose office was only a few doors down), exact same developer (who was standing right next to me), and in many people’s opinions the Cannery stands to be an even better project because of the great bones of the existing building combined with 20 years of experience. Doing the quick math, being 10 minutes away saves me $450,000...about $45,000/mile.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It's Oakland's Turn...Jerry Brown wasn't crazy.

San Francisco magazine has made these assertions in their current issue regarding development in and around downtown Oakland. I couldn't agree more with SF magazine's assessment. Seven years ago I bought the main Oakland Train Station and 25 acres of vacant land that surrounded it. When I bought the site I decided to delve directly into the neighborhood and learn more about the hopes and aspirations of the residents. I spent time in the local barbershop where I heard many stories of the rich history of the area. I also became aware of a very deep frustration with the lack of progress in getting new buildings and new residents to the area....the neighbors were saying that "It's Oakland's Turn"....isn't it??

One of the most interesting people I met in the early days is my counterpart in the photo above. his name is Marcel Diallo and he shared his vision for bringing back the neighborhood by organizing creative young folks like himself....he's was in his middle 20's at the time......and getting them to focus on a few blocks in West Oakland known to locals as the "Lower Bottom". His vision is to create an opportunity for entrepreneur's like himself to re-create the lost culture of the Black community.

As a 54 year old "white guy" I was intrigued at how we might work together to start the process of re-building this amazing neighborhood. This blog is designed to tell our story in real time as the buildings come to life. Our first building ...the Pacific Coast Cannery is scheduled for completion this spring 2008. I hope you find this story interesting and compelling and that you participate in Marcel's and my effort to redevelop this special neighborhood the right way....by reaching out and including ALL interested parties and blending ALL of their hopes and aspirations. This is the Bay Area's oldest neighborhood...the Station was the end of the trans-continental railroad in 1870...it has been called "Ellis Island West" by local historians as it was the landing point for all new residents to Northern California. I will post at least once a week to update you on our progress.

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