Central Station

The Bay Area's Newest Destination

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Designs to unite residents


the more we can create sociable environments for communities coming together, the better social environment we're going to have.

For Jeffrey Miller, landscape architecture is more than just plants, waterfalls and decorative rocks. For Miller, the founder of San Francisco's Miller Company Landscape Architects, it's about uniting living spaces and bringing people together.

"My impetus to be a landscape architect came out of a question - how to design social and public space so that there were better relationships between people," he said. "It wasn't a nature-based beginning, it came from more of a sociological perspective."

Take Pacific Cannery Lofts, for example. The development, which is built around an old cannery warehouse, has a dining room entry court and a living room courtyard with two large U-shaped seating arrangements. A linear garden grove runs between the condo units in the cannery building and the three-story townhouses that were built just to its east.

"That grove is sort of a garden street extension of Pine Street into the project," said Kevin Wilcock, a partner with David Baker + Partners architects, which designed Pacific Cannery Lofts. "The units are accessed off of that grove, and people hang out on the raised porches there, and its setup really encourages interaction and circulation throughout the complex."

"I think landscape architecture is just as important as good architecture as far as I'm concerned, especially here in California," said Rick Holliday, founder and president of Holliday Development, which has worked on a handful of projects with Miller over the last two decades. "You know, if we were in Manhattan, it probably wouldn't matter; you'd just have put some plants in hallways. But here, you really want the outside to come inside and the inside to come outside. People want to have a relationship with the outside in Northern California, and doing that well is critical to doing good infill housing." [Complete Story]

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's a new year in the Prescott-Oakland Point neighborhood


I discovered the Armchair Abecedarian blog the other day and read this amazing story of "Why I Love Oakland", check it out!

And in case you have not been keeping up, here are some recent stories found at the POPna site:

We draw the lines (California Redistricting)

A Target Store is coming...Really!

Pope Benedict XVI embraces Tweeter...

The rush to aid Haiti events, fundraiser

Is the weather getting you down?

Shhh... The City of Oakland website is in BETA

There are a number of ways to follow the POPna site and stay informed about the happenings in the Prescott-Oakland Point Neighborhood. Here are just a few sites that provide a link to POPna:

A Better Oakland: V Smoothe’s personal commentary on Oakland’s progress under”Oakland Place Blogs”

Oakland Local is an independent, non-profit community news and information hub, connecting community and news.

Bay News Network: a directory and aggregator of 101 blogs and hyperlocal sites focusing on the Bay Area and surrounding environs.

Fwix: a local news site designed to show you the most recent and relevant information in your area.

Placeblog: a blog about the lived experience of a place.

Outside.In: is the leading hyperlocal content and advertising platform.

Oaklander Online: Glenview neighborhood blog.

Our Oakland: independent blog

Future Oakland: blog comments from the perspective of a real estate and marketing consultant about Oakland.

Just to name a few!

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

WHO LIVES HERE? Patti White and John Sander


The other day I had a chance to see what used to be the original PCL sales office when I went to interview Patti and John, and what a transformation. I have to say that the sales office was pretty cool when we were using it but now it's a real show piece. When I first walked in I couldn't even get past the first few steps without asking questions and oohing and aahing. The first item that struck me was the color palette and wall paint of orange, dark green, yellow and beige. The room on the left as you first enter the loft is Patti's office where the shelves are constructed from old high school bleachers balanced on large
metal spools salvaged from the Sunset Line and Twine Company in Petaluma.
Still in the wood are carvings of high school love, teacher taunts and adolescent verbiage. This area can be closed off by an old sliding metal bank door with a canvas image of a photograph from one of their trips, in place of the glass. Stunning! I then made my way to the kitchen and sat down at the counter that was constructed from the floor of a bowling alley. This is where they both hang out with their laptops and coffee, surfing and sipping. Most of the artistic touches in Patti and John's unit are derived from items found at salvage yards giving their home a very warm and craft like feeling. The TI work here has taken quite a few months and is still on going. John asked Patti to be patient for two months but she wanted to move in in 30 days, so they did, with an incomplete kitchen... the microwave, restaurants and bathroom sink worked as a substitute while they installed a kitchen of orange and dark brown, primarily from IKEA. Both John and Patti have backgrounds in marketing and communications and actually met while working on an corporate event in New York. Patti, who grew up in Wisconsin, develops marketing and event strategies primarily for hi tech businesses. Her work eventually brought her to the Haight in the city where she loved the hippie essence. John studied theater production and ended up coming to California to help open a performing arts center in Silicon Valley where he stayed and worked for two years. Eventually John found a niche producing corporate events including web work, video, stage setting and more. You can check out his work at phproductions.com. Impressive!
PH Productions is based in Emeryville and John, a SF renter, did the reverse commute driving the backroads through parts of West Oakland thinking....pioneering neighborhood with lots of opportunities! Patti and John, now living together on Potrero Hill, were notified that they had to move due to the sale of their rental, so they began to consider purchasing a home. Looking at possibilities in SF they were underwhelmed by the architecture and overwhelmed by the prices and expanded their search to the east bay(a place John thought he would never want to live). The first time they saw the lofts their response was....building 10, location 3, but something clicked and they both remember being upstairs in a loft and looking at each other at the same time with a nod and a spark. So Patti gave it the "test" making a list of 5 things to do in the east bay including checking out the parks, restaurants, farmers markets, etc. Long story short they are now living in a beautiful building and in a fabulously interesting neighborhood. They are both world travelers and their walls are adorned with art from places including Cuba, India, Iceland, Argentina and Bali to name a few. You can see more images on their blog at www.loft152.blogspot.com. Take a look...eye candy!

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

WHO LIVES HERE?....Alena and Michael


If relationships were a board game, Alena and Michael have mastered chutes and ladders and are now passing "GO", and all in their early thirties. As someone with experience (Rick and I have been together since LBJ was president...don't laugh!) these two are in for the long hall. They both agree that they keep each other balanced as they are still learning new things about each other including their differences. Alena is the driven one keeping Michael on his forward path and Michael is the calm one helping Alena put things into perspective as her ambition ramps her up. Planning a wedding in May their relationship began as students at the University of Wisconsin where they both studied psychology. They moved to the bay area when Alena got into graduate school at the California School of Professional Psychology in Alameda where she eventually earned her doctorate in clinical psych specializing in family therapy. They settled in Emeryville with their two shelter dogs, Poe and Twain, two terrier mixes that look like something straight out of a Dr. Seuss book...check out the picture. Michael, who also has a background in sociology, began working in a variety of positions with special needs kids including those with autism and behavioral problems, but eventually went back to school in real estate and has almost completed the program. But Michael's real passion is writing and he is working on a number of reality based fiction novels and dreams of locking himself is a cabin away from the TV, internet and the world where he can just concentrate on his manuscripts the way Michael Creighton does. Alena, upon completing her schooling, and waiting 7 long months due to changes in licensing, first worked a couple of part time jobs working with adults, couples and families and then she landed a great full time job with Kaiser in Antioch. So now they are getting married, done with school, gainfully employed and the next step is buying a home. At first they looked at over 30 detached houses but the extra ("baby") room started to freak Michael out and they turned their search to condos. Don't get me wrong...they are definitely talking kids but not right now. "Lets just be thirty!" is how they put it. Michael found PCL on craigslist and went over to talk to Gail. His adoration of lofts from the movies kicked in and he went home to talk to the "boss". Alena, being a New Yorker, got it right away and they decided to buy the last grove loft. They love the industrial feel, concrete beam and outside space for the dogs. Alena is quite the decorator and the home is full of her touches from remotely controlled blackout window coverings that she can operate while in bed to twigs gracing and individualizing the railing around her patio. When I asked about their initial feelings about the neighborhood the general response was that it was no bigge. From Alena's earlier work in Oakland with kids she was very familiar with the area and its culutre and didn't have to think twice about moving into the community. They both love the fact that families are moving in next door at Ironhorse and that they see kids in the neighborhood but are glad to have their quiet sanctuary on the grove where they have gotten to know their adult neighbors. They are both taking advantage of the great restaurants in the area including Le Cheval, Brown Sugar Kitchen, Miyozen and Kao Sarn Thai to name afew. Both Alena and Michael are looking forward to meeting more PCL residents and have attended most PCL events. The decorator in Alena wants to see more open homes! So great talking to you both....two sparkplugs for sure!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Are you an Entrepreneur? (updated)

Glancing through my latest copy of Inc. magazine I found two articles of interest I thought I might share by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg who writes a regular column about the impact of entrepreneurial businesses on families for Inc. magazine.

Inc. magazine is a great resource for the entrepreneurial souls providing information and advice covering virtually every business and management task, including marketing, sales, finding capital, managing people, and much, much more. They have a website, Inc.com.

Here are excerpts of those two articles written by Meg Cadoux Hirshberg.

Balancing Acts: If Not Now, When?

For entrepreneurs, there's never a right time to buy a house, start a family, have a life. While you are building a business, work-life balance inevitably suffers.

The reality is that when you are entangled in an entrepreneurial life, there's never a right time -- for anything.

There's no right time, because there's no time (and usually no money, either).

An entrepreneurial life becomes all about postponing -- "When we break even…," "When we get that contract…," "When we hire that salesperson…" -- ah, yes, that's when our lives can move ahead.

The fact is that while you are building (and building, and building, and sometimes rebuilding) a business, you are also composing a life.

Theoretically, entrepreneurs control their lives and schedules. But the exact opposite is usually true:
  • Entrepreneurs are whipsawed by their businesses.
  • There is a constant sense of crisis, and every aspect of running a business demands more time than there are hours in a day.
  • If the entrepreneur doesn't build a high wall around his or her personal life, the business is sure to overwhelm it. [More]
Bed and Boardroom

There's nothing like a home-based business for increasing family stress.

The moment you create a business, you step into a twilight zone where the barrier between what is work and what is not starts to break down. The deterioration accelerates for entrepreneurs who work out of their homes. You may start off with a home-based business but soon find yourself with a business where you and your family also happen to live.

Privacy isn't the only issue. In homes shared with companies, living space may be drastically reduced by the demands of workspace and inventory storage. [More]



The City of Oakland has opened an assistance center dedicated to small businesses almost 6 months ago. Their goal is to assist regular people start maintain or move your business by providing help navigating the City’s permitting, zoning, business tax and license departments along with business counseling and outreach resources.

Check out the Oakland Business Assistance Center and the latest issue of the Redeveloping Oakland Newsletter which features many of the non-profit organizations that partner with Redevelopment to implement a variety of projects and programs ranging from workforce development to real estate development.

Do you need help, deciding what business you would like to be in? Check out these organizations that provide consulting, workshops, or long-term classes (multi-week curriculum) and other information to help you.

Also, the first issue of the East Bay Express Small Business Monthly is due out Jan. 27th, as mo a insert in the Express on the last Wednesday of every month.

This marks a 2010 launch of the Small Business Monthly focus on local reporting of small business issues in our region covering wide range of topics including advertising opportunities.

Let’s not forget the IRS folks, check out their small business resources, here.

For more articles and neigborhood news, go to the POPna site.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Who Lives Here? ........Nick Garcia




The Alameda School District had a half day yesterday so I was able to sit and chat with Nick Garcia, one of their speech pathologists and PCL resident since September. At his job Nick assesses and works with kids with a variety of issues effecting their speech including physical, cognitive and motor issues in addition to autism and deafness. He has always wanted to work with kids starting a major in child psychology at Cal State Northridge. This was interrupted abruptly when he was a bit "shook up" living two blocks from the epicenter of the Northridge Earthquake when it hit. Moving to the bay area he completed his schooling by starting over again at Sacramento state in speech pathology which was well worth the extra time in school. Throughout our conversation it was clear that Nick's experiences with these special kids gives him a very compassionate and open perspective on others and life in general. Settling in the east bay where his once long term partner lived, he at one point contemplated buying a house in Martinez. But his social life often took him to SF and his dating life took him to the Lake Merritt area where he began to discover Oakland. A friend of his had recently moved into Zephyr Gate and told him about the Central Station development. Now in a courtyard loft, Nick at one point considered a unit with an open loft, but opted for the more private separate upstairs space. The access to the outside was also a plus. His closing was not fun but both he and HD are glad he stuck it out! Nicks reaction to the neighborhood was similar to that of others.....cautious and warming as he got to know the area, learned more about the neighbors and spent time in West Oakland. Pleased with the insta-access to the freeway he loves the city but also goes to the Lake Merritt area everyday for a workout at Gold's gym(evident by his fit physique) and to load up on groceries at Trader Joes. Nick loves to cook. His home is immaculate and organized with a carefully thought out color scheme of grey blues and muted greens accented with eggplant curtains on black rods. Quite stunning. The living room is dominated by a chocolate brown leather sofa against the soft blue wall. Very nice. Everything is so neat at Nicks...except for the haphazardly painted beam up in the bedroom. I just cracked up when Nick said he got tired of painting. Most people would paint a beam from one end to the other but this beam (check out the picture) looked like it had been painted by a couple of Nick's kids. I loved it! Nick assures me he will finish the job but I say leave it as is! So much personality! Nick also owns a black and burgundy 1988 Citroen 2CV6 car, a beloved treasure from his time spent in France. Although he drove it for a couple of years it is now in pieces as he and his partner are rebuilding it. Hopefully we will eventually see it in the PCL garage....just another unique piece at the Cannery! Nick...thanks for sharing your story and welcome to the PCL community.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Oakland Running Festival Update

Previously, I posted “Oakland Running Festival in the Prescott-Oakland Point." You may remember I stated the race will enter the Prescott Oakland Point neighborhood from Mandela Parkway and 7th street up Mandela Parkway to West Grand then veer right up Peralta before turning on 26th Street.

The latest information on the March 27th-28th, 2010 Inaugural Oakland Running Festival is it has surpassed a total of 2,500 runners representing 33% of the anticipated final (limited) registration.

For more information about this event and others, go to POPna.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

WHO LIVES HERE? Zach Warner and Tyler Nielson


For the longest time I thought that ZACHANDTYLER was just one word, but the other day I finally got to sit down with these TWO young men and hear each one of their stories. I have been hearing their names for so long because they were acquainted with PCL by one of our marketing consultants in the very early stages and were able to watch the project during construction. With all units available at the time stage they considered many locations but landed in the end grove unit and are elated!

Both men grew up in Utah, Zach in Ogden and Tyler in Richfield, both very rural settings. Tyler's family ran a dairy farm with over 500 cows! Not far away is Promontory Point, where on May 10, 1869, there was a grand celebration as the Union Pacific's No. 119 and the Central Pacific's Jupiter touched cowcatchers to complete the transcontinental railroad. Z+T who are very familiar with railroad history are now thrilled to be near the Oakland Train Station at the end of the transcontinental line.
Zach’s grandfather was a physician and at one point Zach thought about following in his footsteps. His degree in zoology from Weber State University lead him to various jobs in a hospital in Salt Lake but his creative side keep rearing its head. He moved into the area of marketing and sales at the hospital and felt like this was the direction of his passion.
In the meantime Tyler had connected with a childhood acquaintance who set Tyler up selling Vitamix blenders. (check out www.vitamix.com). He was a natural salesman and soon was travelling between Utah and the Bay Area for the company. On one of his stints back in Utah he and Zach met and have been together ever since. Having both been on Mormon missions, Zach to Argentina and Tyler to Denver, they began sharing thoughts and experiences including some of the lifestyle challenges of growing up Mormon in Utah leading the two of them to move to San Francisco where there was more diversity and acceptance. Here they both work selling Vitamix blenders at Costco and were able to swing moving to PCL and establishing a home of their own. Their expression of self and creativity is evident in their loft accented with colorful walls, well thought out, wisely purchased furniture and a very healthy and nutritionally sound lifestyle. As a former exercise physiologist I am very interested in good nutrition. It was so much fun to talk about what healthy meals can be blended up in one of the Vitamix Blenders. Tyler threw in couple of strawberries, stem and all, some juice, soy powder and ice and in a matter of seconds I had a delicious healthy scoop of sorbet that rivaled the sorbet served by Scream at the party last week.

Now legally married the word for them is smitten. Smitten with the bay area, smitten with the abundance of fresh local produce, smitten with their new home and neighbors and smitten with each other. Z +T...welcome to the Central Station community and thanks for the sorbet. I will be by to pick up my blender. (yes....I bought one:)