In addition to plans for infilling Jack London Square, the CIM Group is pushing forward with two options for a new Uptown Oakland tower to rise on the current parking lot site at 325 22nd Street.  And based on current building heights, one of the options could yield the tallest tower in Oakland.

As designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB), Option A calls for a 250-foot-tall tower, with 408,000 square feet of office space over 7,400 square feet of ground floor retail and a garage for 181 cars:

But the plans could be stretched for Option B, a 34-story tower rising up to 450 feet in height, with 820,000 square feet of office space over 7,400 square feet of retail space and a garage for 342 cars:

In the words of Oakland’s Planning Department, the 450-foot-tall tower “has a more elegant, refined mass that supports the success of the Central Business District as a densely developed, vibrant commercial center,” while the 250-foot-tall plan “appears bulky and squat” when compared to the taller scheme.  But “both options are generally well-designed.”

And while both options include a signature “sky terrace,” the taller plan could yield some rather spectacular views.

79 thoughts on “Big and Bigger Plans for an Oakland Tower and Terrace in the Sky”
  1. I hope they go for the bigger option and add something spikey to the top, you know, put some scrape in the skyscraper.

  2. I actually did a little startled “Agh!” at the images of the first proposal… scrolled down thinking “thank god there’s a 2nd option”, only to find that the 2nd option is just the first on steroids. I know style is subjective, but – goddess that’s ugly.

    (And aside – everyone defended my critique of the rooftop deck at 555 Howard by noting that the glass walls were to rise 20 feet… so I’m curious for the feedback here, where it appears that the glass walls around the rooftop open space are merely waist- or chest-high.)

  3. The first option looks way too bulky. The second option is far more elegant and at 450ft would become the tallest building in Oakland. The Ordway Building directly east of the parcel being developed is currently the tallest building in Oakland at 28 stories and 404ft.

  4. If I remember currently they were recently proposing a much smaller building for this parcel. I believe it was for a 200,000 sq. ft. office building. I guess highrise office construction in DTO is “penciling out” once again.

      1. Overflow. “The tech boom in San Francisco has lifted office rents in the prime spots of that city to spectacular levels. But the soaring office rents make it tougher for non-tech companies to pay what San Francisco commercial landlords demand,” eastbaytimes.

        As history teaches: Oakland grows when San Francisco overflows.

        1. Or Pleasanton rises when Clorox resizes ?? IIRC you’re interpretation of them moving R&D – that kind of backroom function that rightfully belongs in the land of vast lawns and $24/sf rents – to the hinterlands was a sign of DO’s unattractiveness; yet a move INTO it should be viewed mostly as a sign of SF’s popularity…as opposed to, say, being overpriced. Silly me.

          1. Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley area has been outgrowing Oakland for many decades, sometimes at the expense of SF, such as when Chevron and Pac Bell moved their HQs from SF CBD to Bishop Ranch starting in the 1980s and mostly completed in the 1990s. That was about 20,000 jobs that moved from SF to the more spacious and browner eastlands. And that was before the dotcom made SF rents higher than they are now, inflation adjusted.

            As the President of Blue Shield mentioned in the article that you referenced, they are moving to Oakland to save money, not because they wanted to be downwind of the container port. Lots of people and businesses are priced out of SF and SV. Happens every boom. The eastbay is a natural, modest step away from these more preferred and more expensive locations. And yes it would be silly of you or anyone else not to recognize that and instead think that the prices weren’t related to popularity or more correctly, value.

            What is really happening is that the concentration of high and mostly computer tech is expanding from the huge center in SV and the modest center in SF and the tiny centers in the east and north bay to displace businesses that don’t need access to this talent pool and can get along ok in less expensive areas.

            As for Clorox, they not only moved their R&D from Oakland to Pleasanton, they continued to grow many kinds of functions in Pleasanton, without growing any in Oakland. SF has industrial and warehouse space available for ~$24, though not on the scale or in the condition that Clorox would need.

            As for where R&D belongs, it depends on what kind of Ring and Ding you do. Clorox needs hazmat conditions that do make it wise to do it in a lower population area. But much of the boom of SV and SF is very very high value R&D. Speaking of which, time for me to get back to work.

          2. “The eastbay is a natural, modest step”
            It sounds like we’re in perfect agreement…excellent !! I’m sure the Passaic of the Pacific will welcome these cost-conscious types, though Bragdad-by-the-Bay may miss losing the few modest people it has left.

  5. Like the sky terrace; the rest Is awkward and lazy. That site, and Oakland deserves something elegant and beautiful – not this. Take the lead from SOM’s gorgeous church one block over.

    1. The Cathedral is pretty from afar, but has a terrible interface with the street. Not a design to emulate in that regard.

  6. I like the idea of a new tallest building in Oakland, but this thing is a hunk of Tetris block junk. For this to be the tallest tower in my favorite city is really sad for me.

    As for that balcony unless is public open space, which I think it’s not, then it’s only going to be used by a handful of people on a handful of days, so it really isn’t that cool.

    I love Oakland but this is a dissapointment for me.

    That said I still hope it gets built sooon!!

    All the proposed Oakland towers need to start breaking ground asap cause this current cycle is gettting veeeeeery old…it’s interesting how the cycles play out.

    1. I agree. This is an amazing location adjacent to beautiful Lake Merritt and the architecture needs to be top notch. They can do much better than this bulky and uninteresting building.

        1. Something more slender at the top with some ornamentation. The current buildings in and around Kaiser Plaza are squat and bulky. Not very interesting.

  7. Are they attaching it to the smaller building to the left on the drawings? IMO – it would be more elegant if they moved that side back a bit to let some light in and just made it tall to give a slender appearance. The neighboring buildings are begging for something more elegant and appealing, not a square building to the lot line that blocks out all light.

    1. This. Unfortunately Oakland is probably too stupid to approve such a relatively ambitious design. But I’m willing to be surpised!

  8. The taller version is pretty cool. Anyone who’s been in the upper floors of the Pandora or Ordway buildings will tell you the views are some of the best in the Bay Area. The sky terrace will be very popular.

    1. The vacancy rate in downtown Oakland is lower than the rate in downtown SF. Also, for DTO proper I’ve seen time frames where the area has reached above $60.00 per square foot despite some SF developers and lenders who keep moving the goal posts for Oakland in regards to “penciling out” and “viability.”

    2. The 1100 Broadway parcel just changed hands from SKS and the new owners plan to go ahead with a 24 story spec office building.

    3. UCOP has signed a lease for half of 1100 Broadway and the new owner of the site expects to file for permits and break ground quickly.

      1. That’s interesting, but it would be nice to have something other than government in downtown Oakland. Between EBMUD, Caltrans, the state, the feds, and the county the area is already chock full of government offices. Variety is good.

        And I’m not really going to be impressed until someone literally walks through the front door and sits down in their office. There are holes in the ground in Oakland, and there are half-finished buildings in Oakland. Plans and leases do not impress me.

        1. Pandora, Ask, Kaiser Permanent, Clorox, many tech start ups, architectural firms, law firms, advertising, etc. DTO is not just government offices. DTO is well diversified and Uber is bringing in an additional 3,000 jobs.

          1. Uber has no need of that office. Their company is imploding and if they survive the year it will be with radically fewer employees. I consider it available space.

          2. Well if they’re really in that bad of shape maybe they will/should consider jettisoning the SF office(s) and making Oakland the sole HQ. The cash flow from a nice sub-lease/sale – I can’t remember whether they own MB or just lease it – should cover their restructuring costs.

          3. Uber will own the Oakland building. If they are struggling as you say, then I suspect they would consolidate in Oakland.

          4. Clorox sold their Oakland HQ building years ago. They moved nearly half the staff including their R&D (tech) to their new campus in Pleasanton, where they continue to grow and where they currently have thousands of employees vs the hundreds left behind in Oakland. The Tri-Valley area doesn’t get much attention in SS, but it currently has more class A office space than Oakland and has had far greater growth for decades.

          5. Jake,

            Clorox headquarters is still in Oakland and the Clorox building is almost fully leased.

            Also, Oakland has more class A space than the tri-valley. The tri-valley is uninteresting suburban campus housing without the climate, transportation, walkability, recreation, dinning options, historic architecture, etc., of DTO.

          6. The Tri-Valley area has nearly 50% more class A office space than Oakland, per the Colliers quarterly reports. In fact the Tri-Valley area has more class A office space than Oakland+Berkeley+Emeryville+Alameda+Richmond, according to Colliers.

            Sure, Clorox still has some people in Oakland, but they built a new campus in Pleasanton. Clorox sold in Oakland and bought in Pleasanton. Clorox downsized in Oakland and continues to grow in Pleasanton.

            For decades, the Tri-Valley area has been growing class A office much faster than Oakland, while the Hayward-Fremont area has been growing PDR much faster than Oakland; and both have vastly grown in population, while Oakland has struggled.

            You may consider these areas “uninteresting”, but they sure have been more successful and competitive than Oakland, for decades past and likely decades future.

          7. Jake, the price per square foot tells us that DTO is much more expensive than Tri-Valkey. Sorry, I have never considered suburban campus office park real estate as “class A.” I like cities with urban classic historic downtowns, and by the respective office rates between DTO and the Tri-Valley, so do most businesses.

          8. There are many many Class A office buildings in suburban campus settings that are far superior to any building in Oakland. Quite a few pricier too.

            Actually, has been the prefered and primary offices for high-tech companies, from the old IBM (Armonk) and ATT/Bell Labs days through to the new Apple HQ, which is being built on land that used to be an HP campus. Might do you some good to checkout the popularity and prices for class A office space in Cupertino, Mt View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara and other suburbs lacking Oakland’s classic historic rundown downtown.

            So, no need to be sorry, but it would help if you were to learn what you are talking about.

          9. jwb, also.. I’m not sure why you’re comparing two regions, each several times the land area of Oakland, while also cherry picking factors to amp up the superiority of those regions. Seems like worthless data.

          10. Jake, vacancy rates and asking rents say Oakland’s CBD is quite popular (6.9% vacancy, $2.91/SF), more popular than the Tri-Valley (9.3% vacancy, $2.55/SF)

          11. No one saying downtown Oakland isn’t somewhat popular. I’m considering it for new office space for our company, despite the area being kinda dumpy. Certainly a lot cheaper than SF and it is tough for our people that live on the Jersey side of the Bay to get into the outrageously popular SF CBD.

            Nevertheless, Tri-Valley has much more Class A office space leased than Oakland. And it has been building much more of it for a long time. Not even close. I guess I’m just old-fashioned in thinking that “popular” is somehow correlated with populous.

            According to your figures, the amazing charm of Oakland’s downtown only commands ~14% premium on the drab distant carparks of Pleasanton, even when DTO is at record low vacancy rates.

          12. Actually the Colliers apples-to-apples (class A) is $4.21/$2.88 ($4.44 for JLS) which is ~ half…hopefully enough of a spread to encourage undesirable would-be tenants to keep on driving.

          13. Jake: You keep calling DTO “rundown & dumpy.” I don’t find the Downtown Oakland neighborhoods of Jack London Square, Old Oakland, City Center, Frank Ogawa Plaza, Uptown & Lake Merritt Financial District, etc. “dumpy or rundown.” Look in those areas and you might find something you like.

          14. @Notcom: ‘undesirable would-be tenants’ like Clorox have been choosing the Tri-Valley area over Oakland for decades. That’s why it has grown so much why Oakland has grown so little. Expect that to continue for decades more.

            @EG: I have been looking in all of those kinda dumpy areas you listed. Know them well. Worked in and visited them for 20+ years. You may need to look around a bit more yourself to appreciate just how mediocre they truly are.

          15. Jake: I only have downtown San Francisco and downtown San Jose to compare to. Does San Ramon have a downtown?

          16. there are scores of towns and cities in the bay area with down-towns. Some not dumpy at all. Some nearly all dumpy. Not that I am not opposed to dumpiness. I moved to the South Park area of SF when it was more dumpy than not. Some of the areas of Oakland that you often list remind me of my hood pre-dotcom. Lots of potential amid dumpiness. Just those Oakland hoods are not as likely to grow as rapidly as South Beach did or as San Ramon has and will.

        2. jwb, SF’s largest employer is the City & County of SF, then UCSF, CPMC, Wells Fargo, SFUSD, Gap Inc, PG&E, State of California, Salesforce and Kaiser. Oakland has a slightly heavier public sector mix… Kaiser, OUSD, County of Alameda, City of Oakland, BART, State of California, CHO/UCSF, Alameda Health System, UPS and Southwest Airlines. Economists have said Oakland’s economy has a very healthy level of diversity. I also think it’s equitable if public sector jobs are on the mainland with good access to public transit. UCOP is an excellent employer and I’m thrilled their expanding in Downtown Oakland.

          BTW, there are ZERO half finished buildings in Downtown Oakland and only one hole in the ground – which now has a tenant: BCBS.

          1. Thanks for the details, I really enjoy them. However there is a half-finished building in the heart of downtown. Here it is.

            The building has been in that state since at least 2009. You can see all the way back to 2011 on the Street View history. Perhaps you believe that recent progress disqualifies this as “half finishes” but I disagree.

            You also seem to believe that the BCBS lease disqualifies 601 City Center from being a hole in the ground, but it is literally a hole in the ground and has stood as such for 17 years. Again I reserve the right to be skeptical until an actual structure appears.

          2. Well, 601 City Center is one of the prime lots in DTO being land-banked by SF developers. The other lot was the 1100 Broadway parcel owned for year by SKS and recently sold to Ellis Partners who will now build an already half lease 24 story skyscraper on the property. There is now just the Shorestein hole in the ground in DTO and that one will be resolved shortly.

          3. The Twelfth Street example is an unfortunate one: prior to this it was home to what I believe was one of the few iron-fronted buildings in Oakland (and given 1906, probably the whole Bay Area); it was torn-down in what looks like 2001 for this…abstract art sculpture. Bigger is Better – sometimes – but only if you actually finish w/i a two decade span.

          4. Are you saying that the Shorenstein hole in the ground at 12th & Jefferson also now has a tenant in addition to the recent lease by UCOP at 1100 Broadway? I’m not clear regarding the BCBS reference. Thanks

          5. jwb, that’s an interesting link to a half-finished building. A closer look at the streetview history shows that it was half-complete until mid-2015, after which construction restarted. It’s now nearly done.

    1. That is a very broad statement – are you opposed to high rise buildings? Or just high rise office buildings?

      Do you want California cities to grow out instead of up to make room for the annual 1% population growth in CA?

      1. No, I like elegant high rise architecture. It’s just that all the building has been in SF and nothing in Oakland in the last 8 years.

        1. Noted – my question was directed at ‘Oakland’ for the comment: “These monstrosities have ruined the character of this city, and the bay area. Go somewhere else”

    2. this is the most uninformed opinion conceivable. like your sewer system? how about the gleaming bastions of learning that are your public schools? enjoy your trash being picked up? how about having cops on the street or your park’s grass mowed? guess where that comes from, junior?. property taxes. the Subway on the corner and local smoke shop aren’t going to keep the lights on. cities evolve and change, and density is the driver of more transportation, more housing, better everything. ruined the character of Oakland? f-ing hilarious

  9. Wow – truly stunning building with the capability to redefine a city. Love the active street frontage and welcoming ground floor surroundings. And that sky terrace would be incredible.

    A building like this – with character, elegance and a strong impact in the neighborhood, would surely bring major companies to the area and could prove to be a catalyst for growth. If Oakland wants to compete with SF and grow as a city – it needs to support bold and beautiful architecture like this.

    ‘go big or go home’ – agreed.

    1. To be fair we have some beautiful older skyscrapers such as the Cathedral Building, Latham Building, Tribune Building, City Hall, Lemington Building, etc. I do agree about the more modern architecture with the exception of Lake Merritt Plaza Building, Clorox Building, Kaiser Building, and the rather elegant Ordway Building. The Federal Building twin towers is also not bad.

          1. when the term was originally used in the 1880s it described a building of 10 to 20 floors but now describes one of at least 40–50 floors.

        1. Well, I think you’ll find that “skyscraper” doesn’t have an especially fixed or immutable definition, and in any case would be better expressed in feet/meters, not floors. (The Transamerica Pyramid was “San Francisco’s tallest skyscraper”, after all, and it’s a mere 48 floors…) I don’t think any of Oakland’s high rises merit being called skyscrapers either, but it’s partly context – with everything topping out somewhere between 300-400 feet, nothing stands out particularly. When the Tribune Tower was built, they probably called it a skyscraper, though, and for 1906, they were right.

          Also this building looks kind of stumpy even in the tall version; those projecting fins might add a bit of curtain-wall interest, but this is a background building trying to look like it’s not. It’s sure better than a parking lot, but I wish our developer overlords would get out more, maybe meet a few new architects.

          1. Yeah, it takes a bit of getting use to. It looks like a bulky T-Rex. It does make a profound statement. I think it can be refined a bit into something really gorgeous.

  10. I will be very surprised if this gets built. The office market is softening in San Francisco with a lot of supply coming onto the market. Sublease activity is way up and I imagine as Salesforce moves into its building that it will be leaving a lot of available space on the market. Who is your credit tenant in this building? How do you realize north of $50 a square foot? I love the idea of more office space in Oakland, I just think financing this deal is a long shot. Good luck to the developer.

    1. Tenants who appreciate Oakland’s central location to a much larger pool of employees that SF can’t provide, great access to BART, great weather, an abundance of restaurants, pubs, art, wonderful recreational opportunities at nearby Lake Merritt or Oakland Estuary, etc. Employers who understand that the Oakland side of the Bay is where the largest population base resides. Why make employees spend an additional 20 to 30 minutes stuck at the Bay Bridge toll plaza not to mention the crawl on the Bay Bridge just to get to the congested streets of SF when they have already reached Oakland? This SF-centri view of anything built in Oakland is harmful to our entire region.

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