Officials break ground on 24-story MacArthur Transit Village housing complex

In what was once a BART parking lot, Oakland city officials helped break ground on what will eventually become a 403-unit apartment building.

The 24-story tower would become the tallest building in North Oakland. 

"I love tall buildings near great transit. And this is groundbreaking. It is the first high rise to be built downtown in decades and it will help us fight the horrible housing crisis," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

The building is part of a housing development called the MacArthur Transit Village.

It all sits about two blocks from the MacArthur BART station.

The hope is people won't use their cars to get to work.

But can beleaguered BART handle the increased load?

"We have additional trains coming to the rescue in the next month or two," said BART Board of Directors member Robert Raburn. 

The entire almost 900-unit complex will have 145 apartments that are quote "affordable," with 45 of those located in the high rise..

But in Oakland, affordable is not easy to define..

"Low income can't afford it. Low income is low income," said Rhonda Davis, an Oakland resident. 

"We have people of all means moving to Oakland. And if we don't build places to move into they will displace the people living in our community all these years," said Schaaf.

While recent high rise buildings in Oakland, Emeryville and Concord were destroyed by fires while they were under construction, the new tower shouldn't have that problem.

"It is not really an issue for our building. It is a type-one building which means it is constructed of concrete, not combustible material," said project developer Aaron Fenton.

With project seemingly going full speed ahead, business owners in Temescal, including the owner of an Ethiopian restaurant , say they welcome the coming influx of new neighbors.

"We have a shortage of apartments especially in Oakland. A lot of people are moving because ti is very expensive to live. So the more we have the better in the long run," said Kesete Yoannes. 

The apartments are expected to rent for between $3,500-$4,500 a month for a two bedroom.

The building should be completed in two years.