Oakland: Lake Merritt Tower Officially Dead

Rendering: UrbanCore via East Bay Express
Though it would have been nice to see another tower rise in Oakland, Lake Merritt Tower is now officially dead as the Oakland City Council voted to cancel plans to sell a city-owned plot of land to private developer UrbanCore, according to a report by SFGate.com. Even if the sale had been approved it likely would have been tied up in litigation for years as the city attorney warned that the sale was illegal. The land is already back on the market. This time it will be offered to "preferred entities" first (affordable housing non-profits, school districts, etc.), as mandated by a state law. If no preferred entity shows interest after 60 days, the land could then be sold to a private developer. Whoever ends up buying the parcel, I sure hope they build something worthy of such a great location.
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July 20, 2015 at 8:48 AM delete

I'd say it's on hold. What are the chances a new proposal will beat Urban Core's $5.1m for the parcel and $8m for affordable housing?

Patrick Z
July 20, 2015 at 8:58 PM delete

It's true. The tower could be back if none of the other proposals work out. My understanding of the surplus land law is that any interested 'preferred' entity (non-profit housing developer, etc) would get to negotiate with the city first, meaning they won't be directly trying to outbid Urban Core. While the city is not required to just take any offer from a non-profit, it would be interesting if they rejected a good offer because it is lower than what Urban Core has offered. I think given all the press this tower received, the city is under a lot of pressure to do the "right" thing. At the same time, the city council was fairly indifferent to the criticism that surrounded the last deal so they might very well try to bring the tower back.

July 21, 2015 at 10:46 AM delete

The right thing is obtaining the most compensation for the land for a use that produces the most annual financial compensation. If the city gets the most money for the land for a use that produces annual compensation, then Oaklanders are guaranteed to benefit from that money. Affordable housing does not necessarily got to Oaklanders, it goes to who ever applies -no matter where they were born. Also, is it fair to subsidize housing at a premium location on the backs of working class, tax paying Oaklanders?