Central Station

The Bay Area's Newest Destination

Monday, November 30, 2009

Every 15 minutes...

That’s what AC Transit is telling us.

According to a presentation a couple of weeks ago, AC Transit presented information on the Bus Route 26 changes that could have you at the West Oakland BART station from 12th and Wood Street or arrive at 12th and Wood Street from the West Oakland BART station in less than 5 minutes, every 15 minutes during peak hours and 30 minutes during off peak from 5:00 am to 12 Midnight.

At that same presentation, AC Transit shared information on the Bus Route 31 that would provide trips to the Emerybay Public Market for dining, Bay Street Emeryville, Powell Street Shopping Center in Emeryville, East Bay Bridge Shopping Center, and IKEA for shopping in less than 10 minutes from 12th and Peralta Street which is 3 blocks southeast from Wood Street.

Come out to the Community Open House to learn more about this revised plan and talk with AC Transit planners tomorrow Tuesday, December 1st 2009 at 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Comments on the revisions will be accepted through December 2nd.

Those comments will be accepted in the following form of communication:

The Board of Directors is expected to adopt the Revised Service Adjustments Plan at its December 16th meeting.

For more information and updates, keep checking the POPna site or AC Transit blog

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Who Lives Here? Lydia Hemphill

Lydia Hemphill is a local girl growing up in Kensington where she attended El Cerrito High School and then on to UC Berkeley where she majored in integrative biology. You now can find her in her lab coat hovering over pipettes full of molecules that she has produced for in vivo, in vitro and toxicity studies. Her work at Genentech as a research assistant takes her to South San Francisco daily so she is very pleased with the convenient freeway access at PCL. Her true biological love is anatomy, physiology and evolutionary biology and her dream job would be to work at the Academy of Sciences in the city. Before putting on her lab coat in the morning, Lydia jumps into the pool and swims for 45 minutes covering more than a mile in the water. We talked about the peacefulness of swimming, the thinking time that it provides and the soothing sounds of ones own breathing and heart beat. What a great way to start the day. Spending a year abroad in Madrid Spain during college is only a fraction of her world travel. She has been to India, Nepal, China to see her grandmothers village, and Thailand. Before moving to the Cannery, Lydia's home was a rental in Emeryville. When she started looking for a home to purchase she looked at everything in her price range including foreclosures but was uninspired. It was her boyfriend who spotted PCL from the freeway and encouraged her to take a look. She loved the building right away and began working her way through the different units. Of course the neighborhood was an initial concern but now she is very comfortable in her signature loft that faces the port. She didn't really think about her door to the outside being an assset at the time of purchase but now that she is thinking about getting a dog she is glad to have the direct access to the outside. She assures me that her dog will be a big dog like a lab or malamute. Because of her busy work schedule she hasn't met a lot of the new residents but says that the ones she is beginning to meet are very nice. Lydia attended last months block party and met some new folks there but says the best way to meet someone is through their dogs. Upon entering Lydia's signature loft, I was struck by the beautiful saturated colors on the walls. (check out the photograph) For a house warming gift Lydia's parents gave her a session with a colorist who chose rose, burnt orange and even some green for the walls. For fun and relaxation, Lydia plays the trumpet in a 60 person symphonic band (that includes her dad on trombone) called West County Wind sponsored by Contra Costa College. You can catch the performances at the performance hall on campus. Monday night practices are a weekly highlight for Lydia. So if you hear a sweet trumpet sound wafting from the port side of PCL you can bet that it is coming from the Hemphill House. Welcome to PCL Lydia and let us know when you get your dog!

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gentle Side of Chip Johnson

As a guest writer for the PCL blog, I thought this might be a topic of interest.

A recent article by Chip Johnson (not related) of the SF Chronicle, titled “West Oakland may be on verge of positive change“ was focused on the Central Station development. Chip visited the previous week during a community party event held within the courtyard of the current residential developments of Pacific Cannery Lofts (PCL), Ironhorse and Zephyr Gate in Central Station.

Before I begin, let me say although Chip and I are not related, we are of the same mindset, sharing same life experiences, ideas and values. I am comfortable saying that I consider Chip as part of my extended family, until proven wrong by some DNA testing.

In Chip’s article, he notes “a West Oakland neighborhood long known by locals as the Lower Bottom Neighborhood.” Reading this, I think this may need further explanation. First I do not believe all locals (as this statement implies) use or call their Prescott Oakland-Point neighborhood the “Lower Bottom” which may have luster, in my opinion seems generational and not linked or designated by traditional methodology like the historic name of Prescott Oakland-Point neighborhood.

In a March 2009 KTVU special one neighbor stated "I don't care for it," says Betty Johnson (not related), who has been known in the neighborhood as Miss Betty since she moved there in 1962. "The youngsters started calling it Lower Bottom."

In the same KTVU special I stated "When I hear the term Lower Bottom now, I understand that it's an artistic term,”…

Betty Marvin, Oakland's history maven, commented to me while discussing the Prescott Oakland Point neighborhood that she thought “the "Lower Bottom term is reverse romanticism." Now how artistic is that!

Something else unexpectedly came out of Chip’s article which I equate as a testament of the quality of work and commitment by the various architects, builders and developers creating a “seamless transition from one building to the next” in the Central Station development.

How did Chip provide this testimonial? In his article he stated “although the complex will carry the design imprint of four separate developers, so far there is a seamless transition from one building to the next.” He further wrote “Construction of an additional 300 units of rental housing and a low-income apartment complex … has not begun.”

Chip did not realized during his tour and subsequent discussion with me lasting for almost 40 minutes, during the community party that we sat in the middle of the courtyard (seamlessly)bound by the PCL, Ironhorse (affordable housing) and Zephyr Gate residential units.

Typically, affordable housing is often criticized as being easy to identify by its cheap, substandard and ugly appearance, which perpetuate the perception that affordable housing does not fit within a community of market rate housings.

In some cases this could be true, but seeing Central Station dispels any preconceived notions about affordable housing when you partner private developer, Holliday Development with affordable housing developer, Bridge Housing both being experienced and successful community builders.

For more on affordable housing, keep checking the POPna site for articles currently in-progress.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

WHO LIVES HERE.......LeAnn Flesher

She loves the design and the find! As I walked through the door of LeAnn Flesher's upstairs corner grove unit I was hit with light from all sides and stopped in my tracks by the great sense of original design and feeling of "I'm home". First was the unusual kitchen island.....a piece of furniture that was perfect but that I had never seen before. It was an oak craftsman style table/island/counter/cabinet all in one that LeAnn uses for eating, storage, as an island and for computer work. Really cool! As a dining table it comfortably seats 12! The main focus in her loft is the two story pillar that is smack dab in the in middle and visible from basically any room. LeAnn entertained me by sharing her visitors comments and suggestion for use of the pillar ranging from painting it, to stringing it with lights, to putting hooks in it, to getting rid of it all together. We laughed about that last suggestion as we both visualized the ceiling crashing in and taking everything in its path down to Zack an Tyler's unit below! LeAnn uses her space so creatively with placement of her living area and bedroom downstairs and a home office and TV/den/second bedroom upstairs. I think many people would have switched the placements but this really works beautifully!

LeAnn, who works in Berkeley as the Academic Dean of the Baptist Seminary of the West, moved from Alameda to an apartment in Emeryville a couple of years ago. From this base she took her time looking throughout the area for a home to purchase including the Richmond Marina. In escrow two times before closing on her PCL loft, she finally moved in on May 18th and immediately went off to Africa for work (more on that later). Her unit actually closed while she was traveling and she told me that she felt like she was home the minute she walked back in the door even though she was still in boxes. LeAnn looked at a number of units at PCL during her hunt but this one stuck with her! When she first saw it she figured the numbers wouldn't work and actually asked her realtor to get her out of there! Both he and Gail picked up on the fact that her face actually changed when she entered that space and eventually she did come back, was very pleased with the numbers and moved in!

Prior to becoming Dean, LeAnn was a professor of theology, specializing in Old Testament Studies at the Graduate Theology Union in Berkeley, an ecumenical and interfaith school. Her education is extensive including undergraduate work in business administration at the University of Minnesota, her home state, a masters degree in divinity from Bethel Theology Seminary and a PhD. from Drew University in Madison, NJ. Her work took her to Africa where she is involved in starting a Protestant seminary in partnership with a mission in Uganda. She was also in Rwanda and war torn Congo working with women who were struggling with the trauma of being war victims. Have a cup of tea with LeAnn if you can and listen to the stories! After that I felt silly asking her if she was wary of West Oakland but home is different. LeAnn calmly replied that she had been in much worse situations in NY and was very excited after talking with Rick about his vision for the area. She loves being apart of it all and living what she teaches. I asked LeAnn where her neighborhood haunts were and found that she really goes all over the place. She loves the local restaurants and has taken up sailing in the Berkeley Marina. LeAnn....thanks so much for sharing your home and in your spare time could you please design our next model?
P.S. this blog is in red because we both love designing in reds!

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

What made this event so special?

In July 2007, the construction contractor UPA California for the City Walk, the Olson Company's boxy condominium development a block from Oakland City Hall walked off the job and then filed bankruptcy.

On November 19th, 2008, developer SunCal (Lehman Brothers were the financial partner) filed for bankruptcy on Oak Knoll residential project in the East Oakland hills. The vision of the development was 960 homes, a retail center and community park. The luxury estate homes would line the highest ridge, with affordable apartments and senior housing nearer to Mountain Boulevard and market rate homes in between.

AF Evans, which declared bankruptcy on March 5th 2009, lost its 901 Jefferson St., a 75-unit building development, to the lender. An estimated the total cost of the project was at $140 million. The City of Pittsburg plans to spend $9.2 million to buy and finish building Vidrio, a 90 percent-complete condo project originally developed by bankrupt AF Evans Co.

All these projects and more cite the financial meltdown and the tightening credit market as contributors to their failures.

In one of the worst economies and in an area that has received little positive press over the past years, Central Station has seen some of the greatest success of any new development in the Bay Area.

On Thursday, Oct. 29th 2009 Central Station celebrated the completion of nearly 400 homes (currently over 200 new residents) as part of the first phase of Central Station, the largest private investment in the history of the Prescott Oakland Point neighborhood.

The block party was an opportunity that brought together new and long-time residents. The 300+ attendees of this party included the Lew Hing family, local elected officials, local businesses, out-of-towners, and represented the rich Prescott Oakland Point neighborhood with people of diverse ethnic, cultural and economic backgrounds living side by side which dates back to the early nineteenth century.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Who Lives Here? Stephanie Schnapp and Kendra Bickley

Before I even got to the door of Stephanie and Kendra's new loft I was greeted by their "puggle" Blue who came running down the hall. Blue is a cross between a pug and a beagle, absolutely adorable and is only a few months old. When I did enter Stephanie and Kendra's home I was struck by the vivid colors on the walls. Two shades of a very saturated orange on a wall in the living room accented by Kendra's grandmothers kitchen table of yellow "formica"...so familiar to me having grown up in the 50's! Straight out of Mad Men! Stephanie and I (Kendra was at work unfortunately) sat at this table chatting while Blue took over the green armchair for his after noon nap. These two ladies have been together for the past eight years having met in San Francisco while Kendra, originally from Stockton, was studying Photography at San Francisco State University and working as a barista at Peets Coffee on Market Street. Stephanie grew up and attended college in Southern Illinois and moved out here on a whim after finishing her degree in bio science. Her science background led her to UCSF where she had a number of positions before landing her present job of 4 years as a clinical lab scientist. Her work in the immunohemotology lab includes educating others with her background, on how to become a clinical lab scientists like herself. Kendra now also works at UCSF as a unit coordinator in the ortho/spine pod for the OR. These two ladies were some of the first residents at PCL moving in April from San Francisco where they had the "landlady from hell". They found us on the PCL website. About this time Lola, the cat, wandered down the stairs and led us outside to the balcony where the sun was shining on a lime and tomato plant. I was then invited upstairs to see K+S personal gym set up in the area at the top of the stairs of their courtyard loft. Stephanie used to be a personal trainer and still lifts weights at home when she has the time. Wrapping up, Stephanie got serious and looked me in the eye telling me that one of the main reasons she and Kendra decided to move to PCL was because of Holliday Development's reputation and the fact that Rick and I run the company together with such warmth. Thanks you so much for that Steph and welcome to the community.

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Sunday, November 1, 2009


Thursday night Central Station was hoppin'! More than 250 people came to the block party for food, drink, to meet their neighbors or find out what the hub bub is about. The local vendors who fed and entertained were fabulous. Pulled pork and eggplant sandwiches from Brown Sugar Kitchen, great beer from the kegs of Linden Street Brewery, wine tasting with the owners of Urban Legends Winery, coffee, pastries and some great chai from Galatea Cafe, and fruit and vegetable skewers from Namie's Kitchen all accompanied by the the music of DJ, Jonathan Smothers. To top it off dessert was provided by Scream Sorbet with flavors ranging from carmel cashew and lemon buttermilk to thai basil. Needless to say most of the partygoers went back multiple times for the tasty treats!
It was so wonderful to see West Oakland so alive. Pine street was bustling as neighbors strolled down the street and then continued down the grove at PCL to the heart of the new developments. From there people wandered onto the beautiful podium and into the community room at Ironhorse Apartments and to the models at Zephyr gate. The night was tepid and clear and a good time was had by all. Sunday following the party a very nice article came out in the Chronicle about the development of the Oakland's oldest neighborhood. (see blog below) We are on a roll!

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VISIONARY - Terner Relentless in Pursuit of Housing
Affordable Housing Finance • October 2009
By Rick Holliday

Don Terner changed my life. I first met Don as a burnt-out, lost graduate student at University of California Berkeley in 1976. In the 20-plus years I knew Don, I witnessed firsthand his remarkable ability to inspire and lead his colleagues and friends in his relentless pursuit to build affordable housing. Don approached the never ending affordable housing production shortfall with a laser focus and unbridled enthusiasm. This attitude/method became his mantra, “Whatever It Takes.”

On Jan. 3, 1983, I had the honor to join Don as his business partner with a stated goal to create a “new” regional nonprofit housing developer that could lead the way in developing large quantities of high-quality affordable homes for working families that were priced out of the San Francisco Bay Area market. The mission we laid out was audacious and bold. BRIDGE would build thousands of homes in partnership with public and private parties. BRIDGE is more than 25 years old now, and we lost Don in our 13th year.

Note: Terner, an architect and social entrepreneur who served on the faculties at MIT, Harvard, and Berkeley, died in April 1996 in a plane crash with U.S. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown while on a humanitarian mission to Bosnia.

Complete article here

VISION - New West Oakland lofts in old Pacific Cannery
West Oakland is undergoing a transformation with Central Station, a series of housing developments in the neighborhood around the historic Southern Pacific Train Station.

Approved by city leaders five years ago, the plan calls for more than 1,000 homes to replace 26 dusty acres. They'll be clustered around the restored Beaux Arts-style 16th Street Train Station, the terminus of the Transcontinental Railroad.

The area has long been a sort of no-man's-land. West Oakland was cut off from the rest of the city on four sides by the Oakland Army Base, West Oakland BART, the West Grand Avenue freeway entrance to the Bay Bridge and a lumbering double-decker portion of Interstate 880 called the Cypress Structure.

Then 20 years ago, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck, rendering the Cypress a pile of rubble. Shortly afterward the Army base was shuttered and an area that had long been cut off from the rest of Oakland was suddenly a lot the way it used to be - a regular neighborhood of Victorians and warehouses, easily accessible and well placed.

The area changed slowly, just as Jack London Square did. The artists infiltrate first, moving in for the cheap live-work space; then the hipsters arrive, coming for its rough-edged authenticity; and finally the developers.

One of the first entrants, Holliday Development, is building the Pacific Cannery Lofts in the initial phase of the Central Station community.

The 163-unit project is an adaptive reuse of a historic warehouse, the 1911 Pacific Coast Cannery building, which was shuttered during the Great Depression and has sat empty for 50 years.

Complete article here

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