OAKLAND, Calif. - Work is moving forward to tear down a building with asbestos in Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, but questions linger about what will go in its place.
The half demolished, now-defunct Chase bank sits at the corner of Broadway and Pleasant Valley in Oakland. KTVU spotted crews at the building on Wednesday after hearing demolition resumed at the start of the year. It is the first time there has been any activity on the building after asbestos was discovered in the concrete during demo last year.
Chair of the Rockridge Community Planning Council Stuart Flashman has been keeping a close eye on the project.
“I think the public wants to see something happen here,” he said.
Darin Ranelletti, Deputy Planning Director for the City of Oakland, said the demolition is expected to last about two to three weeks. He said the developer, TRC Retail, has taken all proper precautions to ensure there is no asbestos exposure to the public during removal.
Plans for the site were originally approved in 2013 for a multi-story parking garage, plus stores and restaurants, but rising construction costs and the changing nature of retail forced TRC Retail to put the project on hold. It means nothing will happen, for now, once the building is torn down.
“They're trying to figure out how to make the project work and we think that phase two will happen at some point,” Ranelletti said. “The amount of time it takes depends on whether they will make any changes to the approval.”
Flashman said he and others in the community would like to see housing built in its place since residential spaces are much needed in Oakland.
But the current lease between TRC Retail and the property owner precludes housing and the only way for housing to be an option is to have the lease renegotiated, according to Ranelletti. He said the city has suggested housing to TRC Retail too and encouraged them to renegotiate.
KTVU has reached out to TRC Retail since December in an effort to find out what the future plans for the site may be. A spokesman for the company said they are not commenting at this time, but may in the future.
The uncertainty has left Flashman with mixed feelings.
“I'm glad something is going on. a feeling of frustration that the plan had been approved isn't going forward and a combination of nervousness and possible hope. nervousness because we don't know whats going to go in and hope because maybe they'll be some residential finally.”