Central Station

The Bay Area's Newest Destination

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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