Starbucks planned for E. Oakland to offer training program, full benefits for all employees

- Starbucks plans to open shop in East Oakland at the corner of 73rd Avenue and Foothill Boulevard.  Supporters say it will be bigger and better than the average Starbucks because it will be focused on helping the community.

City council member Desley Brooks says she worked for years on getting an anchor tenant to help revitalize the neighborhood before the Starbucks deal came together.  She sees it as a "win-win" for the community.

Green grass grows sporadically on this East Oakland lot.  Now for some, the prospect of a new Starbucks rising here signals a rebirth of commerce in East Oakland.

"I think Starbucks will be the first thing to happen to the community and then other companies will see how great Starbucks is going to do and I think they'll follow through," says Freddie Pittman, a longtime resident of the area.
            
The lot is just over an acre.  The Firestone tire store that stood here was demolished in 2010.  Proposals including a library and other retail have all failed to materialize. But last month, the city council approved the Starbucks project. 

“It's been a process that I've been working on for many years and now it's coming to fruition,” says City Council member Desley Brooks.

She says the city has entered into a 12 to18 month exclusive negotiating agreement with Starbucks to either purchase or lease the property.

"It's a big deal.  This is my neighborhood," says Brooks.
  
She says it's a big deal because this Starbucks will have a unique urban focus. 

She showed KTVU artist renderings of what it will look like inside the coffee shop. 

"This is a Starbucks that will have a community room that the community can use.  It will be part of the training program.  They will hire people from the community. 

And it's a place where you can create community," says Brooks.

Starbucks is promising to hire and buy locally. The employees will receive full benefits whether they are full-time or part-time.

This store will be larger than the average Starbucks because it will offer youth training programs and a community room for use by nonprofits.

"A lot of the violence is not here like there used to be.  It's cool. It'll help the community out," says Genaro Gregor, an Oakland resident.

Starbucks opened a similar community-oriented store in Ferguson, Missouri about a year ago. Oakland would be second.  Starbucks plans to open a total of 15 such stores nationwide by next year.

"We don't have a lot of job opportunities in East Oakland.  It'll give something for the young people to do," says Lossie Ford, an Oakland resident.

"As a community looking for a long time to revitalize this is just one more step in that direction," says Brooks.

Some critics say they'd rather see affordable housing built instead. 
 
"We need jobs. We can't buy a house when you don't have any money.
says Ford.

People who live in the area say the Starbucks is reason for hope.

"I think it's wonderful for this area. It’s about time. They should have done it years ago.  I think it's going to be good for the community," says Pittman.
                
The new Starbucks will be 3,600 square feet with a drive through window.
Brooks says it should open by sometime next year.

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