Oakland: 10 10th - Kaiser Convention Center Plans To Be Decided Next Week

Image: Orton Development
A few weeks ago, a reader sent me a note about the planned redevelopment of the Henry J. Kaiser Convention Center and I put it on my long to do list as another development that I'll need to cover sometime soon. Soon came sooner than I thought as the Oakland City Council is about to vote to move forward with one of two proposals for this important historic site.

If you're not familiar with the Kaiser Convention Center, it is a large and prominent 1914 Beaux-Arts historic structure on 10th Street right next to Lake Merritt Channel. The building was in use until 2005 when the city of Oakland could no longer keep up with the costs of maintaining the building. Except for a brief stint during the Occupy movement, the building has been unoccupied ever since despite several attempts at reopening it. Last year, however, the city recognized how important it is to revitalize the building as the surrounding neighborhood is rapidly changing and the continued expense of keeping the building free from vandals is starting to add up. The city thus invited private developers to submit proposals for revitalizing the building. It's important to note that the building will not be sold but rather leased to the developer.

Two proposals were ultimately submitted by local developers Orton Development and Creative Development Partners (CDP). Both proposals, which are at this stage fairly preliminary, would restore the main venue as well as the smaller Calvin Simmons Theater. The latter would be made available to local artists and non-profits at a subsidized rate. From an architectural standpoint, the one major difference between the two proposals is that CDP's submission includes a 15-story hotel (pictured below).

Based on the findings of an evaluation panel, city staff is now recommending that the Orton proposal should move forward. Though you may mourn the loss of what could have been another tallish building in downtown Oakland, from the documents made publicly available, it looks as though the city believes that Orton's team, which includes well-known San Francisco architectural firm Heller Manus, has a more solid proposal. Primarily, the report points to financial considerations (which CDP disputes) as well as concerns about potential opposition to the hotel from members of the community.

The vote to move forward with the Orton proposal is set to take place on July 7th. Once negotiations with the developers are completed, we should get more details on this important restoration as the project's plans are being fine-tuned. On my personal wishlist is removing the surface parking lot in front of the building, of course, though it doesn't look like that was included in any of the preliminary proposals. If everything goes according to plan, renovation work should begin in December 2016, with an estimated completion date in December 2018.

Image: Orton Development
CDP Proposal with 15-story hotel. Rendering: Creative Development Partners
CDP Proposal. Rendering: Creative Development Partners

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December 15, 2015 at 1:46 AM delete

This convention center is located at really a good place and I am glad that you shared about it here. I am a new businessman and looking for some similar location like this for my introductory event. I hope I will get it soon.