New residential development coming to Jack London Square

Oakland's Jack London Square is in the final phases of implementing a master plan for redevelopment that was approved in 2004.

If you haven't been to the area lately, you'll see many new shops and restaurants and by all accounts the area is on an upswing.

With all the development there are also fears about people being priced out.

Jack London Square is located just west of 880 and south of the Port of Oakland.

The interim head of Oakland's Planning and Building Department  Darin Ranelletti went for a walk with our KTVU crew through the square and surrounding neighborhood.

He pointed out a number of construction sites, including one on Broadway and Second where a seven-story 50 unit residential building is going up. He says it should be ready in just less than two years. There is another building planned several blocks over in the Produce District. There will be 130 residential units in that building.
Also just west of 880 near the Jackson Street exit, the former Cost Plus headquarters building is now a construction site as crews work on another residential building.
Ranelletti says what's going on, in and around Jack London Square mirrors what's happening in the broader economy with strong job growth, investments in the region and city.

Some say the square has never been so "hip."

Jindy Garfias of Morgan Hill says "there's more shops, more restaurants, it's safer... if I lived closer I'd definitely come more often."

What is now a parking lot  at Embarcadero and Broadway - the main entrance to Jack London Square - will soon be a residential building with 120 units all at "market rate."

Oakland resident Paul Fields tells KTVU he looked in the area but ended up living in East Oakland. He says, "the condominiums were pretty I saw them online and then I saw the price tags... since then, about three years ago, I haven't looked again."

He said with all the new construction he would consider looking again, "but I probably couldn't afford it."
Ranelletti says developers set the price of the units - and it's always a price that allows them to recoup their own investment. "They're always going to build at the top of the market because construction costs are so expensive," he said.

Another residential building is planned along Embarcadero between Harrison and Alice. That building will be eight stories, with 330 units.

Many people KTVU spoke with said they welcome the changes, but don't want the area to lose its charm or its diversity.

While the city cannot require developers to build affordable housing - or below-market rate units in Jack London Square - developers do have to pay a housing impact fee. That money goes into a city fund, which is then used for transportation, infrastructure, and affordable housing in Oakland.