657 West MacArthur Boulevard Site

As we first reported last year:

The days are numbered for the MacArthur Carwash and tire shop at the corner of MacArthur and Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland, as the corner site traded hands for $1.325 million earlier this year and plans to develop the parcel have now been submitted to the city for review.

While the 657 West MacArthur Boulevard site is currently only zoned for building up to 62 feet in height, and it was sold with draft plans for a five-story building to rise, the development team is planning to invoke the city’s density bonus law and build up to six-stories in height…

As proposed, the development would yield 41 new condos, three of which would be deeded for very low-income households in exchange for the extra height, over a ground floor [21-car] garage and retail space, a couple blocks from BART and the waylaid MacArthur Station development.

And with the proposed development having been approved and newly rendered, the 657 West MacArthur Boulevard site is now back on the market for $3.485 million, including the entitlements and plans.

52 thoughts on “MacArthur Boulevard Project Newly Rendered and in Play”
    1. at this height, you can get a wood-over-concrete building, which is a very cost efficient model. anything taller would not be as feasible, unless it were much much taller.

      1. An update to the California Building Code this year now allows 8-story buildings to be built as 5 stories of wood over 3 stories of concrete. So we could probably at least get from 6 to 8 without increasing per-unit cost much.

        1. Very interesting! I didn’t realize those building types could be built with the same cost figures. In an urban context, I definitely hope that the lower two floors at least are used for residential / office use as opposed to parking!

  1. it’s a shame the original buyer didn’t have the cash to develop. hard to imagine a developer swooping in to purchase/develop this site right now. meanwhile, the carwash is closed and gated. my guess is that it will sit like that for a lot longer – kind of like the lot with shuttered victorians right across the street. really a bummer. leaving the carwash alone would have been better for the neighborhood.

    1. It _is_ really frustrating how many of these lots are being sat on by speculators, to the detriment of the neighborhood. The empty lot right up the road at 39th and MLK was bought up for $100k in the recession and has been empty and on the market for a million since then. If only the city could reassess a property based on its asking price …

      Meanwhile the NIMBY groups are giving the developers who are actually trying to build as hard a time as possible.

      1. I just walked by the lot across the street. There’s a “coming soon” sign posted on the corner house of a 5 story apartment building.

  2. Selling a fully entitled building site is very common. It’s not a negative or positive thing.

  3. With the MacArthur transit village gaining momentum and breaking ground on new buildings, I don’t see this parcel remaining empty for too long. Temescal is booming and this parcel is close to transportation in addition to being near all the amenities in Temescal & Emeryvile.

  4. Honest question what exactly is booming in Temescal?I remember 4 years or so back every ad for rental or sale included hyperbole about “Trendy Temescal”. I hopped on the Bart after work to check it out. Seemed very quiet . Not much really going on. Decided to check it out during the day. Same thing. I guess listings go quickly, but unless something has changed there don’t tend to be too many listings or new development.

    1. Agree on Temescal… it’s ok but the Grand Lake area for example is much nicer with more things to do and there is not much difference in the pricing between the two neighborhoods.

      In general I think North Oakland is overrated. Rockridge is a gem but very expensive with virtually nothing under $1MM.

      1. Grand Lake is a great dense neighborhood at the heart of everything Oakland. It’s a great area but so is Rockridge, Piedmont Avenue and Temescal.

    2. There are so many great restaurants in Temescal ilong with the quaint shops at Temescal Alley. There are residential developments under construction or soon to break ground at Claremont & Telegraph, 51st & Telegraph, 47th & Telegraph, 48th & Shatuck, along with 850 units of housing around 40th & Telegraph at the MacArthur Transit Village. Yes, Temescal is booming.

    3. It’s booming in comparison to what it was 10 or 15 years ago.

      I understand why you would feel it a little sleepy if you go expecting a really bustling retail area, but gradually restaurants and shops have been filling in along Telegraph, and the whole neighborhood has been continuously gentrifying.

      Five years ago it was seen as a real hipster haven (kindof a cut-rate Mission district). Now, we’re probably well past that….the artists and barista set is moving east of the lake, and Temescal is feeling more and more like the next Rockridge.

      1. Mission is exactly what I was expecting. Not necessarily in feel but at least in density. It was probably right after day light savings so it was pretty dark when I got of that Bart. I walked from 40th to 51st just felt super quiet. I did however stumble-upon Casserole House! (RIP), which was amazing, so that was a pleasant surprise. My Saturday morning visit wasn’t much different. I still liked the area though. It just didn’t live up to the hype. In retrospect that should have been obvious as it was primarily realtor driven hype.

  5. The entire Telegraph avenue corridor between Berkeley and 16th & Telegraph in DTO has ongoing projects as well as many more in the pipeline. This is a great transit corridor which is going to be much denser and much more vibrant within the next 5 years. The potential on this corridor is immense due to the BART stations as well as the walk ability and future bike friendly infrastructure between DTO and the UC Campus.

    1. It is not a “great transit corridor” unless you are planning to walk to BART. The 6 line has much worse service than the combined 1+1R had until quite recently. The only good way to get around Temescal is on a bicycle, which you will need to bring with you because the bike share that Quan claimed to have “brought to Oakland” years ago still isn’t here.

      1. Patience. It is coming this summer. Quan “brought it” in that she convinced MTC to include Oakland in the Phase 2 expansion of the system. That is now coming to fruition. Sorry to inform you, but these things don’t happen instantly….funding and planning need to be in place.

      2. But I agree that the 6 has been a terrible replacement of the 1 and 1R. I really don’t know what AC is thinking…as this is one of their most productive routes. They’ve screwed up.

        1. I don’t blame ACT because it was the city of Berkeley that didn’t want to participate in the BRT line. If they had, we would have got a BRT route all the way from San Leandro to downtown Berkeley, which would have been amazing.

  6. I’d walk a mile to either MacArthur, 19th Street or 12th Street. That’s just me. I enjoy urban walks.

    1. Yup, that’s just you, and few others. The masses it takes for mass transit won’t walk a mile to a subway station.

      In this census tract, about three times as many people commute to work by car as by mass transit. The intersection of two interstate freeways is the defining transportation feature of this location, not the BART station. Same for Oakland overall, where the freeway network carries far more people than the entire mass transit network, just like most other suburbs.

        1. Uptown Oakland could “boom” at the current rate for 100 years and it still wouldn’t have the population density of SF’s Sunset district today or that SF’s Richmond district has had for 50 years. The reality is that what you consider “booming” is barely enough to qualify as ‘also ran far behind the leaders’ in the booming Bay Area.

          1. The Sunset District in SF at around 14,000 residents per square mile is actually much less dense than both the Adam’s Point neighborhood in Oakland at 19,500 residents per square mile along with the Grand Lake neighborhood in Oakland at 15,400 residents per square mile. There is no question that Uptown and Temescal will be much denser than the Sunset in five years.

          2. Temescal pop density is ~8100/sqmile. Adams Point and Grand Lake are tiny, both just less than 0.3 sqmi, which is smaller than Park Merced. But I will grant that from your writings there is clearly extraordinary density to be found in Oakland.

          3. Jake, the two census tracts (4011, 4012) that comprise Temescal are 12k & 9k ppsm, and all of adjacent census tracts are above 12k. Temescal is also one of the least dense neighborhoods in the Oakland flats. Uptown Oakland (4028) is about 23k, and is not even close to built out. I thought you were the data guy.

          4. Thanks for the actual facts. Lake Merritt and the flat land neighborhoods are actually pretty dense. Oakland is just over 7,000 ppsm including all 57 sq miles but that includes many sparsely populated almost rural areas above Highway 13.

          5. @macarthur, I was using an online source. A different one (citydata) agrees more with you and shows Temescal with a pop density of 11.5k/sqmi. Regardless, still way below the SF Sunset.

            FWIW, citydata lists the Outer Sunset at pop density of 15.7k/sqmi and the Inner Sunset at 23.7k/sqmi. And these are not tiny 2 census tract hoods. The smaller of these, the Inner Sunset, is 4.5 times the size of Temescal. And together they have ~112k residents.

            So, why have these downtownish microhoods of Oakland, for all their very recent boomeranging, hardly reached the population density of such “suburban” neighborhoods of SF as the Sunset? Maybe because they are and always have been essentially suburbian.

            As for a “built-out” truly urban neighborhood for comparison, consider Nob Hill at 60+k/sqmi. Or for neighborhoods built-out without very tall buildings or near the SF CBD, such as Inner RIchmond (33k/sqmi) or Noe (25k/sqmi). There are reasons Oakland doesn’t have “built-out” urban neighborhoods and retains many “under utilized” surface parking lots. Very Oaklandsuburban reasons that won’t change much despite the economic bounty overflowing from SF and SV.

            You want to see population density in Oakland, then check out the freeways there during the AM commute to work in SF and SV.

          6. Jake, I’m using the ACS 2015 5 year estimates. I don’t know what you’re using.

            Nearly all of the non-industrial census tracts along International Boulevard are over 20k, several above 30k, between Lake Merritt and San Leandro. If you want to compare an entire neighborhood, Oakland’s 94601 has about 50,000 people and a population density of 15k ppsm, even including very large industrial areas. And yes, most of Oakland hills areas were developed at a lower density suburban scale than San Francisco. I myself prefer Montclair to the cold and foggy Outer Sunset.

            There are various reasons that Oakland did not attract the level of post-war investment that San Francisco and the promised land of Pleasanton did, reasons which you seem to endorse as right and proper, but in my opinion they are all quite problematic and you should reconsider.

          7. macarthur, fair enough. citydata, that I referenced above, uses the census data as well. See my namelink for their Outer Sunset details, which includes Parkside fwiw. That’s a very suburban part of SF and it has a pop density of 15.7k/sqmi and a total population of 70+k.

            The densest small slices of Oakland you’ve mentioned compare with places like the Inner and Central Richmond of SF and neighborhood sized areas compare with SF suburbs like the Sunset.

            I don’t think any of this is “right and proper” in any moral sense. I think Oakland got shafted (literally) with freeways so that hundred thousand or so folks could live over the hills, work across the bay, and mostly use Oakland as a thruway. Nevertheless, I do think what I have posted is correct/accurate and gives a much better picture than EG’s imaginations, which is a technical non-morally judgmental kind of right and proper.

            Ya wanna see Oakland’s downtown and flatlands get dense like the urban side of SF, then teardown some freeways. Until that happens, the Oakland core will always compete with the freeways that cut through it to more pleasant towns and cities.

          8. Do LA, San Jose, Seattle and even SF have freeways running through the middle of their cities? SF has condos nearly touching the Bay Bridge and density stacked up against freeways. I think Oakland is far more diverse in its various neighborhoods and density than San Francisco. Oakland has dense neighborhoods along with bucolic suburban and even rural areas. This is what makes Oakland such a great place.

          9. The freeways in SF, LA, and Seattle are primarily used and justify their encroachment on the land to convey people to destinations within their cities. The freeways in Oakland are primarily used and justified to convey people between destinations outside of Oakland without the discomfort of actually ever being on an Oakland surface street. Oakland is a thruway more than a destination, at least for the freewayers.

            SF does have density near the Bay Bridge because so many people prefer to live on the SF side. If you wanna see “booming” dense intensification, then check out Rincon Hill, South Beach, and the Tar Flats.

            As usual you make claims about vague oddball notions for things like “diversity” without saying what that means to you. SF certainly has a very wide range of neighborhood population densities, as SF’s inhabited neighborhoods range in density from Chinatown to the Presidio. Probably a wider range than Oakland, but who cares and why should they?

            Oakland is among the most diverse US cities by some published measure of ethnic diversity of which I don’t know the details, but you could google it. San Jose too, with SF a little less, but still among the top 5 or 10 or whatever. A little more honesty would make Oakland such a greater place.

          10. The freeways running through SF are used by people going to Milbrae, Silicon Valley and Oakland. They are used by people going through San Francisco to get to the airport in San Mateo County and from San Mateo County to Oakland and the East Bay. Highway 5, the 405 run through LA to Anaheim, Long Beach, San Diego, etc. Where do you get these ideas?

          11. I wrote about the primary use and I was correct. I did not write that those were the exclusive uses, which appears to have been your errant reading. FWIW, ~80% of the cars that use the Bay Bridge in the AM commute have SF as their destination, according to a study done by UCB. So ya, I get “these ideas” from facts in studies published by experts, unlike…..

          12. Ah, the Bay Bridge is a one way street. I see. Your constant SF-centric attitude and the snide Oakland put downs are tiresome.

          13. Nope, a two-way bridge, but by far most of the traffic west bound on it has an SF destination and by far most of the traffic east bound on it does not have an Oakland destination. These are just facts. They aren’t SF-centric or Oakland put downs at all. Just simple plain facts.

          14. Jake, Oakland is having a big discussion on freeway removal. 880 was already rerouted around West Oakland. 980 removal is next on the list, and early planning for the effort is part of the Downtown Oakland Specific Plan being written now. Removal of 880 will be difficult because of port & airport access; removal of 24 will be difficult because of the recently expanded Caldecott Tunnels; removal of 580 will be difficult because the Tri-Valley will lose their shit. But it’s on my wishlist and I’d tear them all out, even the ones I use.

          15. yeah, removing 980 should be feasible. Get BART to underground (cut and cover) along there, add stations (west grand, 14th, and 4th). Imagine DTO growing west to Market.

  7. The point is that there are plenty of under utilized properties around Oakland’s nine BART stops (compared to 8 in SF) for much more increased density. The increase density in coming at the MaCArthur transit village as well as around the booming uptown neighborhoods near the 19th & Telegraph BART station. The real suburbs are the outlying SF neighborhoods like the Sunset and Richmond with horrible BART and freeway access.

    1. “underutilized” by what standard? By the tepid growth around Oakland BART stops, the market sure hasn’t decided they are “underutilized” much. So sure, theoretically just about anywhere could increase density, but in practice doesn’t or only does very slowly like in Oakland because the demand just won’t support it. That’s why you calling the meager grow in your select Oakland hoods “booming” is hilarious.
      I certainly consider the Sunset district of SF to be suburban. Of course it has a population density nearly twice Oakland’s uptown or temescal. It also has freeway access to Silicon Valley. I’ve know quite a few techs that live in the Sunset for their ethnic community ties and work in SV. And of course the Richmond district of SF, with more than twice the population density of the “boomingest” of Oakland’s dumpy hoods, has a bus service that, bad as it is, will get you to the SF CBD in about the time you spend walking a mile to a BART station and waiting for a train.

      1. “By the tepid growth around Oakland BART stops, the market sure hasn’t decided they are “underutilized” much.”

        The elephant in the room is that that sort of growth may not be allowed. For example, Macarthur Bart has does indeed have pretty low-density structures around it– small houses across the street, strip malls, single-story retail. Although there are lots that are underbuilt relative to the current zoning, within a block of the station are also lots that allow only single family homes. So the official policy is not exactly “we strongly encourage growth around Bart stations”. But then there’s the proposed tower which is, as far as I know, market-driven.

        I would like to know– if I were to buy one of those old little houses across the street from Macarthur and draw up plans to put up an 8-unit building (as far as I can tell that would be the maximum allowed), could I do that, or would I get tied up with reviews, fees, historic designations or other restrictions that I’m not aware of?

    2. And the “stop” @ OAK is the ninth? That seems like a stretch if you’re discussing peripheral development. I don’t expect to see much housing going up in the Short Term Parking Lot any time soon.

      1. True, but it still compliments the other 8 BART stops in Oakland and their desirability as possible development sites. And, it is within Oakland city limits.

  8. Laughably overpriced.

    Pay 1.3 for a lousy low cap return. Spend 150K on entitlements and design plans. Re-list it for $2mm higher. Won’t sell, will be delisted or drastically cut, hailed as a sign of a weakening market.

    Maybe it’s worth 1.5 at this stage. Good luck, but don’t kid yourself. Nice ACM panels, I hope.

    1. No one is laughing at 2300 units under construction in Oskland right now and over another 14,000 units in the pipeline. 2017 will see many construction cranes in Oakland. This parcel will be developed.

      1. I am laughing at anyone who pays $3.485mm for a carwash on MacArthur and some Sketchup pictures.

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