14 August 2007

Tumbleweeds at JLS

East Bay Express writers Robert Gammon and John Birdsall have put together a nice exposé on the not-so-goings-on at Jack London Square. Gammon, as you may recall, co-wrote a well-constructed recent history of the A's in Oakland and their southerly overtures.

Developers Jim Falaschi and Hal Ellis Jr. bought the property for a song in 2001, thanks to connections with bossman Don Perata. They pitched a retail and residential concept around the Slow Food movement, with a fancy farmers market and organic food restaurants that would purportedly put the development at the SF Ferry Terminal to shame. Six years later, previous tenant restaurants have been driven out amid rising rents and concerns about gentrification. The Harvest Hall remains unbuilt. Worst of all, the developers are moving to create office space within JLS, a use completely at odds with the original project intent.

Jack London Square was not originally considered a candidate site for a future Oakland ballpark, instead the
nearby Howard Terminal was. Not that JLS alone is big enough (other surrounding parcels would've been required), but it would've been interesting to see what would've happened if JLS was a candidate site. It's hard to find too much fault with the JLS developers given the volatility of the real estate market, especially in Oakland. Still, there's a sense of major miscalculation at very least, if not complete misdirection on their part.


Anonymous said...

While I'll agree with the writers regarding the mismanagement of Jack London Square by the current owners. I'll have to take exception at their almost resentful attitude regarding the comparison to San Francisco's Ferry Building and to anything which may threaten or remotely compete with the San Francisco tourist scene.

Also, as someone whose frequented the Jack London Square Farmer's Market, I can tell you that the place is packed on Sunday afternoons. People want to be near the waterfront. We just need these crooked developers to get off their duffs and put something there for the enjoyment of the masses.

Also, many of the shoppers are not "African American families" as the writers claim. Most of the shoppers are white middle class people, Also, the JLS Ferry Terminal is a short pleasant walk to the future site of the proposed Harvest Hall. Not a "long" walk as the writers mention. They also forgot the AMTRAK station while attempting to poo poo the area's access and transportation options.

Who pays these guys salaries, the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau?

Dean M. said...

I like that JLS is more outdoors than the SF Ferry Building which is like an upscale organic indoor mall. Hopefully Pacific Commons will be more outdoors like JLS. The Ferry Building does have an advantage over JLS and PC in that it's by the BART station (Embarcadero).

Anonymous said...

jesus christ, you got your nice, white, rich, sterile monument to all things lame and southbay. Why don't you just leave us in oakland alone. it's like you have to kick us while we're down.

V Smoothe said...

Gammon's article is, as usual, full of half-truths and inaccuracies. TGI Fridays and the Spaghetti Factory had been bleeding customers for years before closure. The upper floors of Harvest Hall were always entitled for office (designed to provide daytime customers for the retailers below). When complaining about access, he fails to note that one of Alameda County's busiest bus lines runs directly to the square. The SF Business Times ran a more accurate story about the project last week.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, these developers seem bent on destroying Jack London Square as a dinning and entertainment venue.

I remember about five years back, the Square was jumping. As soon as these guys closed the Spaghetti Factory, TGI Fridays and El Caballo, the Square began to die. They also forced Pizzeria Uno to close by hiking up the rent.

These developers have been a total disaster for the JLS as a dinning and entertainment destination. I believe they are purposely killing JLS in order to have an excuse to turn it into a business park. How can the City of Oakland sit by and allow one of its best assets to be manipulated by these unscrupulous developers?

Jeffrey said...

V SMoothie,

TGIF and Spag. Factory didn't seem to be bleeding customers to me. Do you have validation for this?

The article you linked seems to have a lot less information in it. What inaccurate information did it correct East Bay Express article?

Anonymous said...

TGIF and Spaghetti Factory ? Did their customers drive up in cars playing 8 track tapes or that new -fangled thing called casette tapes ?

Anonymous said...

ML, can you give us an update on the other stadium projects accross MLB?

Says that the Marlins lastest deal fell through.

Marine Layer said...

I plan to have another progress report post in the next week or so.