Central Station

The Bay Area's Newest Destination

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

4 Perspectives on What makes Oakland Great

Buick is doing a bunch of ads that support cities across America by highlighting what makes them great. Despite random shots of Buicks throughout, the videos are actually pretty interesting and well done. In the video below (4 and a half minutes, with 4 more 4 minute videos following), 4 local small business owners (2 from West Oakland!) talk about their favorite areas, restaurants, galleries and activities in Oakland.

"Once the underdog, Oakland has emerged from the shadow of that other city across the bay. With its hip arts scene, tasty restaurants, unique DIY culture and dynamic residents, Oakland is no longer up and coming. It’s arrived."

Check it out at: http://rediscover.msn.com/city/32243562/
After the first video, there are a bunch of focus videos on art, food, culture and community.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Most and Least Affordable Housing in America; AKA PCL pricing is really awesome

The Atlantic Cities, one of the leading sources for information on trends and innovation in urban America (a subsidiary of The Atlantic Magazine), recently published a post on the Most and Least Affordable housing regions in America. See the full article at http://www.theatlanticcities.com/housing/2012/01/most-and-least-affordable-housing-america/1035/

The post summarizes a more comprehensive study that ranks San Francisco-Oakland as the second Least Affordable Housing Market in the U.S. with a median home purchase price of $491,900. That makes the region even less affordable than New York City, which at $389,600 is over $100,000 more affordable. That means housing here is 25% more expensive, on average, than in New York. ouch.

Its a good reminder of how incredible the pricing at PCL is. Where else can you get such a unique home, that's part of a really cool community, and such a short trip to downtown Oakland or downtown San Francisco for these prices. And with prices getting even better recently, you can get a great one or two-bedroom home for way less than the area median.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Neighboring Neighborhood: Oakland Point

When I tell people about PCL, I'm often asked, "what's the neighborhood like?" Recent posts about new business and also all of the neighborhood amenities talk about the neighborhood today, but its also got great history. Marcus Johnson, a frequent contributor to the PCL blog, also posts great historical facts about the neighborhood on his Prescott-Oakland Point Neighborhood blog. A recent post (copied below) gives a good overview, but Marcus also writes a lot of detailed posts about great jazz musicians and other famous residents, the mixed income and racial diversity of the neighborhood, and cool historical quirks. Check his blog out at popna.blogspot.com

The Oakland Point Story

The Oakland Point District, a neighborhood of over 800 homes extending roughly from 8th to 16th Streets and from Pine Street to Mandela Parkway, is Oakland’s oldest and most intact Victorian residential neighborhood. Important themes in Oakland Point’s history include its settlement as an 1860s suburb, its intimate association with the railroad which promoted its growth in the 1870s, and its ethnic heritage.

The Central Pacific (later Southern Pacific) Railroad arrived in Oakland in 1869, establishing the western terminus of the transcontinental railroad at the Point. The railroad yards and shops were established in the early 1870s, and by 1878 the neighborhood was largely built up.

The Point was almost a “company town,’’ in that a high percentage of its residents worked for the railroad or in related industries, at all economic levels from laborers to executives. Seventh Street along the main rail line became a renowned business and entertainment district.

Oakland Point is remembered as a melting pot of many ethnic groups over the years - first Yankee and Irish and Northern European, then Italian and Slavic, Asian, and African-American. African-Americans have a long and prominent history in the neighborhood, beginning with the Pullman Porters who settled at the terminus in the earliest days of the railroad. They became a majority in the area during and after World War II, and established many thriving businesses and churches in Oakland Point.

Source: case number: LM04-001; pg 8, FORM LPAB-4, Oakland Landmark and S-7 Preservation Combining Zone Application Form

Want a date? Buy a home

On Valentine's Day this year, CNN Money posted this mildly absurd study. But, silly as it is, the numbers do make a point.

Want a date? Buy a home

@CNNMoney February 14, 2012: 5:30 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- When it comes to dating, homeownership can be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

In a survey of 1,000 single people, more than a third of women and 18% of men said they would much rather date a homeowner than a renter.

Only 2% of women said they preferred to date a man who rents, while only 3% of men said they would choose a woman who rents over one that owns her home, according to the survey, which was conducted by Harris Interactive for real estate site Trulia.

Both sexes also clearly prefer it when there's no roommate in the picture; 62% of survey respondents, men and women, prefer to date singles who live alone.

And there was bad news for the growing number of boomerang kids -- the young adults who went off to college, graduated and then wound up back in their old bedrooms. It's going to be hard to find love, except (perhaps) from your parents. Less than 5% of all singles surveyed said they would date someone living in their childhood homes.

"That's a real deal-breaker," said Michael Corbett, a spokesman for Trulia. "If you're still living with your folks, you're dead-on-arrival for dating."

Trulia also asked which home features are the biggest turn-ons. Number one turned out to be a master bath. Men (64%) love that private sanctum almost as much as women (75%) do.

Walk-in closets were cited by 55% of men and 72% of women and gourmet kitchens got 51% of the male vote and 62% of the female. Hardwood floors, outdoor decks and home theaters also came in high on the list.

Interestingly enough, hot tubs got a lot less love from respondents. Only 26% of men and 22% of women cited the old standby in the science of seduction as an amenity they would truly want.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Spiff up the bike lanes, Spiff up the bike shop, Spiff up your homes, Spiff up West Oakland

One of the best things about West Oakland is that this neighborhood gets tangibly nicer every day. Watching Pacific Cannery Lofts and the neighboring communities get built, the feeling of change was almost electric. Watching them fill with hundreds of young entrepreneurs, families, and first time homeowners has been a really exciting and inspiring, not just for the people who are part of this community, but for the surrounding neighborhood. The long-time residential community here that predates PCL was extremely supportive of the Central Station development plan because they knew it was part of a bigger trend toward making this neighborhood more vibrant. They knew that it was a huge first step in major reinvestment in this neighborhood by individuals, small businesses, and the City.

And sure enough, as we've watched individual homes throughout the neighborhood be purchased and fixed up, and we've watched the City invest in neighborhood parks and streets, we've also seen local businesses popping up. One example that's important to me as a bike commuter is the bike lanes, bike shop, and other cyclists on the roads. I've mentioned before that I love PCL's Velo Lounge. A couple weeks ago my back wheel got screwed up and I could just throw it on a stand and work on my bike for five minutes before riding off to meet a friend for dinner. Now, the City is improving bike lanes in the area, like the newly painted and soon to be extended 7th street bike lanes.
But even more exciting is the small business investment. Bikes 4 Life, a community-oriented bike shop that opened in this neighborhood in 2009 has made a great business out of not just selling and fixing bikes, but also taking the idea of investing in this community to a greater level.

Located on 7th St. in the heart of historic West Oakland, Bikes 4 Life is a grassroots neighborhood bike shop and social justice enterprise with a mission to support the surrounding community and offer healthy, sustainable life opportunities to young people.

At the shop not only do we sell and repair bikes, but we also help to build future community leaders. B4L’s business model focuses on using biking, arts and technology to empower young people and develop leadership, business skills and a sense of community pride and responsibility.

These last few weeks, Bikes 4 Life has been hard at work upgrading their shop too. I've passed by a number of recent nights and seen folks in there having a beer and swinging hammers. They've made a more inviting corner entry and better facade, and the shop definitely looks brighter and better organized.

And most importantly, I see more people out on bikes and out walking every time I go out. While that bike wheel was in the shop being repaired, I did my commute to and from BART on foot. During that 10 minute walk I would pass a surprising number of people walking and biking, and in the evenings I would also pass a lot of people out gardening in their yards or working on their houses, who would wave and say hi as I walked by.

Its a great neighborhood, and its only getting better.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

PCL Prices Just Got Even Better!

I just got the eBlast from PCL with new pricing and incredible loan rates, and the deals are pretty unbelievable. As I showed in my previous post, it really is cheaper to buy at PCL than rent anywhere around here now, and with the current pricing and rates, its more true than ever. Simply put: $1057 buys you a 1-bedroom loft home (see details below, from the PCL email), while $1500 rents you a 500 square foot studio and $2000 rents you a 1 bedroom.

Own from $1057 per month with a 1.875% loan rate*

Purchase this month and you could own from $1,057/month – including mortgage payment, property taxes, HOA dues, and insurance!!!* That means you can own for about HALF of what it costs to rent - really! Visit us today to see our new models learn more about this unprecedented opportunity.

~ FHA, 5%, 10%, and 20% down financing opportunities
One and two bedroom flats, lofts, and townhomes
Easy access to all major Freeways, BART, Amtrak, & AC Transit
Dog wash and Bike lounge
~ New homes from $189,000
*Contract must be ratified by 2/29/12 and escrow must close within 60 days. Prices, terms, and availability subject to change. See sales agent for details. Please consult a tax advisor. The interest rate on an Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) is subject to increase after consummation. Subject to credit approval. Rates available as of date of printing are subject to change without notice. Home Equity financing is available through Wells Fargo Consumer Credit Group, a division of Wells Fargo Bank,N.A.,Member FDIC. Payment figures above are based on a $189,000 home with 20% down and a 1.875% 5/1 ARM, 2.423% APR. Payment reflects estimated HOA dues, property taxes, insurance, principle and interest.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Popuphood: Bring on Oakland's Entrepreneurs and Artists!

Popup restaurants are all the rage right now, but no one has taken the idea and gone big. Well, no one but OAKLAND. Old Oakland has brought in popup cafes, shops, and local artist's galleries to fill a whole neighborhood in downtown with popups that celebrate the entrepreneurial and artistic spirit of the city. Small businesses make Oakland a great place to eat, shop, hang out and play, and this adds a really fun new option to the mix.

POPUPHOOD from Eva Kolenko on Vimeo.