Plans for a new mixed-income tower overlooking Lake Merritt have been dashed. Oakland’s City Council voted 5-3 to reject plans to sell the city-owned vacant parcel at 101 East 12th Street to UrbanCore. The Richmond-based developer proposed building a 360-unit residential development with a mix of market-rate and low-income housing in Merritt, across from Downtown Oakland.
Building on 0.92 acres, the project would have created a tower and a mid-rise structure, dubbed LakeHouse North and LakeHouse South. The plan for LakeHouse North rises 26 floors to be 267 feet above street level. Inside, the 270 units will include market-rate and 100-120% AMI (Area Median Income) affordable housing. Parking on four floors spanning the basement to level two would have the capacity for 192 cars. Plans for LakeHouse South, the mid-rise, would rise five floors or 76 feet above street level with 90 affordable units for households earning between 30-60% of AMI and parking for 29 cars. Across the whole site, parking would have been included for 219 bicycles.
PYATOK and AVRP Studios were jointly responsible for the architecture, with PGAdesign and Jett as the landscape architects. PYATOK has been involved with constructing Lakeview Village, a small modular village erected on the vacant land, creating 65 single-occupancy units for unhoused residents.
An extension to the Disposition and Developer Agreement deadline was up for a vote. It was the sixth time that the project team requested an extension, and the city was prepared to include a fee of $15,000 per month to encourage the team to get funding, an effort UrbanCore says was made difficult because of the pandemic. According to the firm’s website, the project was expected to cost $200 million, with funding through private equity and debt, tax-exempt bonds, and tax credit equity.
Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas released a memo establishing why she expected to reject the extension ahead of the meeting. The memo makes a detailed argument that “Oakland needs to prioritize producing affordable housing, especially at very low-income levels.” At the core, Bas describes that the city “met nearly DOUBLE – 174% – our RHNA allocation for above-moderate income housing… On the other hand, we have met less than ONE-QUARTER — 22% — of our goal for affordable units.”
As for members in favor of the project, Reid said, “this is a project that’s been around longer than I have. Labor supports it. We’ve extended DDA’s in the past. Support this Black contractor.” Council Member Kalb explained why he switched positions on the proposal, saying, “I have opposed this project before, but I also recognize that it is improved in response to public demands. Some of the financing issues are COVID-related. A hypothetical all-affordable project would need more city money. I support the extension.”
The city’s rejection came with City Council members expressing favor in using the land for a fully-affordable project.
Council Members who voted in favor include Dan Kalb, Treva Reid, and Loren Taylor. Those who voted against it include Nikki Fortunato Bas, Carroll Fife, Sheng Thao, Noel Gallo, and Rebecca Kaplan.