The Norman Marks Health Club building on the corner of 14th and Harrison Streets in Downtown Oakland, which had been a family run gym for nearly seven decades, is now in contract to be sold with a $4 million price tag.

The 9,800-square-foot parcel, which sits at the intersection of Oakland’s Downtown, Chinatown and Lakeside District, is principally zoned for development up to 85 feet in height but could be built up to 275 feet if conditionally approved for a two-building development, either by way of a setback tower or assemblage of parcels.

And the surrounding parking lot parcels as pictured above? They’re zoned for heights ranging from 85 to 400 feet in height, including the controversial parcel at 250 14th Street.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Occupied in Oakland

    Neither adjoining building is part of the sale. 274 14th St was just gut/rehabbed.

    • Posted by Notcom

      Ah yes, the landmark Holmes Book Company. A nostalgic part of me feels sad to see it gutted, but I’m glad it’s still with us (I can’t testify to it being haunted, but I can say it was decrepit…and that was 20 years ago).

      • Posted by Occupied in Oakland

        It was most recently a pretty great fabric store. Now it’s mixed use… a couple apartments and some commercial space for creative endeavors.

        • Posted by Notcom

          Yes, Indian…well, madras and whatever else they produce in India, I guess. They seemed respectful of the property but I just never had any reason to go inside…and of course it wasn’t a spectacular interior, just an old one.

  2. Posted by PRE

    Good riddance. Family run dump is more like it. Whenever I walked by I was never sure that building was even in use. Glad to get rid of a terribly maintained, graffiti covered eyesore from downtown. I certainly hope the sale moves right along. Sad to think of what must have been torn down years ago in that lot and the other car lots on either side.

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Considering the gym was shuttered in January of 2011…

      • Posted by PRE

        Somebody still owns the building and presumably ought to keep it from being yet another eyesore in downtown Oakland – especially since they’re about ready to make a big wad of cash on the sale.

        • Posted by E.Gonsalves

          Exactly. There are so many blighted properties in transition where anti-blight ordinances are not enforced by the city. It’s as if the City is afraid to ask anything of the owners or developers as they allow their valuable well located properties to remained blighted with huge amounts of graffiti.

          The only way DTO will ever completely shine and get rid of the rampant graffiti and litter on certain blocks, will be when all these surface parking lots and underutilized properties are developed into market rate residential housing and highrise office buildings. The market will not tolerate rampant graffiti and litter and this is when things will finally get cleaned up.

          Unfortunately the current lower income residents of these areas are the ones who get to suffer with the blight and are never listened to by the City.

          • Posted by jwb

            The current residents of that area are also the people causing the litter, so what’s the solution? Less than an hour ago I was walking down the block in this photo and a guy eating fast food from a box just up and threw the box, the food, and his utensils right down on the ground, like that’s just what one does. And I see this all the time.

          • Posted by E.Gonsalves

            The solution is making sure the homeless population in that area don’t take the trash out of city garbage cans and spill it all over Webster, Harrison, etc. Those cans are suppose to be locked so that people don’t go foraging through the garbage and leave a mess up and down the street. The city should monitor the streets and clean as needed on a daily basis. We also have the graffiti vandals who probably don’t come from the immediate neighborhood and who trash everything in site. It comes down to inefficient city government which can’t get the basics right.

  3. Posted by E.Gonsalves

    Looking at that picture I’m amazed at the amount of developable prime surface parking lot parcels still left in Downtown Oakland.

    With 7,000 units of housing citywide and now highrises popping up all over downtown, these surface parking lots are goldmines for potential development. There is so much construction going on in Oakland, that there’s a chance more new units will be completed in Oakland in 2018 than in San Francisco.

    Amazing times in Oakland. I hope this parcel goes highrise and brings more elegant density to DTO.

    • Posted by Sassy

      Agreed EG on the amount of sites with development potential. Being such a transit rich location I hope it goes high-rise too, and not the tabletop inducing 20-30, much higher.

      • Posted by E.Gonsalves

        Oakland needs to break out from the 400ft ceiling. Time for a 500ft plus building or two. These surface lots are all being spoken for. The value is going to be in going taller. As you say, DTO is a great transportation hub and is the nexus of the BART system. Elegant density in DTO should be a no brained.

    • Posted by Notcom

      My thought was just the opposite: only two (or maybe three) lots – one of which (as noted) already marked for development – this shot makes it look much more Cityish than “Town.”

      But the big issue, of course: how did they get that nifty 3/4 view? There aren’t any tall buildings around there…yet, anyway.

      • Posted by E.Gonsalves

        Tribune Building? Possibly a drone? Nice shot of the cool old buildings in DTO.

    • Posted by Patrick

      Agree. I was taking a class at 21st and Franklin, and was amazed at the number of parking lots.

  4. Posted by anon2.5

    I hope downtown Oakland will thrive. Overall, it will be positive for Oakland as well as for SF. A more dense downtown Oakland will justify shorter headways on BART, particularly on weekends, which will be a welcome improvement for everyone.

    • Posted by E.Gonsalves

      DTO is already thriving. I was downtown on Saturday and was amazed at all the construction and the packed restaurants. To be fair, it was after the huge women’s march but there were tons of people dining in downtown, Uptown, by the Lake, everywhere.

      It’s amazing how walkable, sunny and pleasant downtown Oakland can be. It was great to see tower cranes and construction everywhere as restaurants in Uptown had lines out the door and sidewalk tables were filled with people. What a wonderful scene and a glimpse at the everyday future of downtown Oakland when the thousands of housing units under construction downtown will be completed and occupied.

      Just keep that elegant density coming. Oakland is turning into quite a swan.

      • Posted by jwb

        Your boosterism knows no bounds? I was downtown on Sunday and the only sensible explanation for what was going on was a neutron bomb wiped out 99.9% of the population, leaving for inexplicable reasons only the mentally ill, and at the same time an airborne garbage barge crashed into Ogawa Plaza leaving fast food containers everywhere.

        I like Oakland as much as any realistic person but outside of a few tiny pockets of activity (Swan’s, the ice rink) there’s nothing good happening in downtown outside of business hours.

        • Posted by E.Gonsalves

          Ice rink? Have you been to Uptown or The Hive? Plenty going on every single day. What ice rink are you referring to?

          • Posted by emanon

            Oh E., you disappoint me. You’re the biggest Oakland booster on SocketSite and you don’t know about the Oakland Ice Center!?!

          • Posted by E.Gonsalves

            He called a “rink.” I was thinking about some outdoor skating rink that doesn’t exist in DTO. I’m very familiar with the wonderful Oakland Ice Center. The bottom line is that DTO is blossoming and is a dynamic business center soon to be a dynamic residential center.

          • Posted by jwb

            Uptown is not Downtown, for what should be obvious reasons. The Hive is Uptown, not Downtown.

          • Posted by E.Gonsalves

            Uptown, Lake Merritt Financial District, Frank Ogawa Plaza, City Center, Old Oakland, Chinatown, Preservation Park, Jack London Square, are all part of “downtown Oakland.” Some areas have more residents and are more vibrant than others. Some areas like City Center are mostly office buildings and have few residents walking around. Isn’t San Francisco Financial District a ghost town after business hours?

          • Posted by jwb

            It’s the Internet and everyone is entitled to their own personal reality bubble, but you’re the only person I’ve ever heard claiming that Downtown Oakland extends north of Grand.

          • Posted by E.Gonsalves

            It goes from the Embarcadero to 27th Street. It’s a big downtown which also includes bustling Chinatown.

    • Posted by E.Gonsalves

      Downtown Oakland already employee 80,000 office workers and has a population of 20,000 residents. To put things in perspective downtown San Jose employs about 40,000 office workers. Oakland can easily accommodate another 50,000 workers downtown if all the surface parking lots are utilized. Utililizing 3 BART Station and centrally located Downtown Oakland, for many more jobs and residents, is what our region needs.

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