Home Buying in Oakland>Question Details

Trulia Oakla…, Home Buyer in Oakland, CA

With it's proximity to transit, why hasn't West Oakland seen faster gentrification

Asked by Trulia Oakland, Oakland, CA Tue Mar 13, 2012

What elements are causing West Oakland to not gentrify quicker?

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Old Inventory is the short answer. When the Cypress Freeway was removed after the '89 Quake, before the housing bubble burst we were seeing a lot of redevelopment, investment (precursors of total gentrification). However the proceess was stymied by the downturned economy. Because most of the homes are over 100 years old, there are still many run down, low income rentals that pesist. Impoverished areas tend to be more succeptible to crime & gang activity. Today West Oakland can vary wildly block to block with some being fully rennovated & kept up and others being dilapidated. Because of proximity to SF it may eventually become a more coveted location, but it my mind needs a major redevelopment project or two plus years to get there.
Sean Schwilling @ Your Service - 510-409-6946
3 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 13, 2012
It's actually seeing quite a number of renovations, construction, etc. Take a look at the various lofts that have sprung up.

But like anything else, it will take time to effect the transition. First, developers have to secure the land -- and if there are multiple owners of adjacent parcels, that could be a challenge especially if owners aren't willing to sell.

Then getting the plan approved by the local government could literally take years. That's not even including the actual building structures and permits.

Because the process to build something new could be lengthy, some builders are opting to buy what's there, and rehab/replace/rebuild.

It helps to see various things develop....look at how beautiful Mandela Parkway turned out to be! To see just how far it's come along, just try getting a seat at Brown Sugar Kitchen for breakfast or lunch. There's almost always a long line of people waiting to get in. And you'll be amazed at the diversity of people who dine there --- white and blue collar mix it up (how wonderful!)

Take a look at Pacific Cannery lofts --- it's 77% sold. And the live/work lofts designed by Thomas Dolan don't stay long in the market. And if you haven't seen them yet, check ouf the Cigar Factory Lofts.

Things are moving...maybe at a snail's pace by some people's standards, but the point is, they're moving in the right direction.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 13, 2012
It takes a new generation of people to change an area... that has started in West Oakalnad and was on it's way when the Recession slammed it. I had a builder friend who got caught in the downturn and lost a few million dollars on taking a chance in West Oakland when the market collapsed. He had all his eggs in 1 basket with 14 homes that went under water on him He missed the markey by about 6 months. West Oakland will come around. Those Old Victorians will be Beautiful again and many are undergoing rehabb as we wrtie this. The location is great, weather is great, Close to SF and the Marina and other areas of Oakland will help it out also. There is still a lot of problems down there and with a bad economy things don't change overnight.

With all the younger people you see on their Bycycles and back packs and Dogs in W Oakland and N Oakland it is only a matter of time. It will be the next Emeryville in 8-10 years as long as the economy does not crash again like it did a few years ago.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 13, 2012
There's a pretty big housing project in the middle of WO so I dont see how that can ever fully gentrify unless they tear it down.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Mar 22, 2012
Interesting. Some of it is the crime, but things are starting to change. The prices are extremely reasonable, but generally speaking, a lot of the homes need a lot of work due to years of deferred maintenance, and lenders want to lend on homes that they believe will remain standing for the 30 years of the mortgage! So one probably needs a fair amount of cash and some ability to do sweat equity. There are also things like the distance to larger grocery stores. But I think that the tide is beginning to change, and when the neighborhoods get together and keep the drug guys out, and start taking care of their yards, things will only go up....
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 13, 2012
Geographically, it is so close to SF, that many have felt for more than a quarter century that WO must be about to gentrify at the next upturn. Historically, it was always workforce housing, close to the docks, and industrial areas. At one time, there was a thriving jazz district there. But decades of a declining industrial sector and downtown, large low income housing projects, combined with poverty brought urban blight and the resulting crime and drug trade. It ravaged the area, and the beautiful old buildings suffered terribly. For many years, only the adventurous and the artists would move there to renovate, due to the low prices. In the recent boom, investors with cash moved in in droves and gobbled up as many properties as they could, and large developers looked favorably on the area to renovate some of the interesting older industrial buildings. It has improved over all, but there is still alot of poverty there side by side with young artists trying to survive in the Bay area.

I don't think it's going to truly gentrify anytime soon. If you are considering WO as an investment for a windfall don't bother. If you want a less expensive area to live and also close to SF via BART, you should consider being part of the wave of improvement. There is an amazing community there, if you know where to look.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 20, 2012
creative community, I meant to say.
Flag Tue Mar 20, 2012
I believe it is because of the crime rate, and WOakland is not next to an already gentrified neighborhood - like Temescal is right next to Rockridge - a gentrified locale. It will happen, but mose of the sales are to investors who will hold the properties as rentals - it is a slower transition.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Mar 13, 2012
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