by Ken Katz
- In the Good News/Not So Good News Department, we learned earlier this week that Starbucks has plans to move into the vacant space at 470 Lake Park. The good news is that just about anything would be an improvement over the KFC that’s been boarded up and covered with graffiti for the last twelve months. The Not So Good News is that it’s a huge chain that will be competing with locally owned shops around the corner that offer coffee and baked goods (Wilde Brothers Coffee and Wild Rabbit Bakery) – not to mention, Alkali Rye which has a strong family connection to Oakland-based Red Bay Coffee. There are also legitimate concerns over the likelihood of increased traffic coming off the freeway onto Lake Park Avenue which would be especially problematic during the morning rush hour. In addition, there’s an incredible amount of signage proposed including two Starbucks signs that are each 10 feet long and a figural sign atop the building that’s roughly 7 x 9 feet. The latter would be illuminated by 19 bulbs producing a total of 15,200 lumens. Still in question, at this point, is whether or not, Starbucks would be closing their space on Lakeshore. We’re also awaiting word as to the procedure and timeline for filing any objections and will share that information on our Facebook page when it becomes available.
- The May 2020 Splash Pad News included a lengthy article about Gehry Oatey’s plans for an outdoor food court at the corner of Lakeshore and MacArthur. Earlier this week, Gehry provided us with a few updates including the above artist’s rendering of the aerial view which shows an abundance of vegetation. As it turns out, that’s an essential element in their efforts to deal with the underground soil contamination that’s typical of abandoned service stations. Through a process of phyto remediation, plants will be used to render contaminants harmless. Gehry also indicated that they are continuing to “work with the property owners, the city, the Alameda County Environmental Health Department and Chevron to make sure that the space comes to life.”
Asked about the pandemic’s impact on the food vendors who were slated to occupy the food court, Gehry said they’re hit the hardest and may go out of business but he added, “We still have spaces open and think that the proposed use of that space is even more appropriate to the COVID world that we are living in.” Given the high rents charged for brick and mortar spaces, once completed the ReFuel Food Court would seem to be a highly attractive alternative.
- We last wrote about the new hand-wrought iron gates at the Gardens at Lake Merritt in January. Earlier this month, after a second gate had been installed at the side entrance to the garden, the SF Chronicle provided more context in this July 13 article.
- Since its founding in 1950, Children’s Fairyland has been Oakland’s happiest destination and once a year, on Fairyland 4 Grownups night, its hippest. This year, in the midst of a devastating pandemic, Fairyland is struggling to survive and they’ve recently launched a “Bring Back the Magic” fundraising campaign.
- As you may already be aware, Dorothea Lange donated her photo archives and personal memorabilia to the Oakland Museum of California in the mid 1950’s – well before the museum opened. In this OMCA blog post, Museum Curator Drew Johnson writes about why that was the case and discusses their plans to make the archive accessible online in a dedicated website.
- A few days ago, we received a call from Tessa Quintanilla, EAH Housing’s Project Manager for the mixed-use, affordable housing project in the works for the Kwik Way property. She indicated that they are still in the process of obtaining the necessary funding which has been difficult since there’s a huge demand and multiple projects already in the pipeline. Currently, they are focused on submitting an application for funding from the State of California which would help close the gap. Tessa said they are currently looking to break ground in late 2021.
- A food truck has been regularly setting up shop on Grand Avenue between the parking lot entrance and Mandana and, apparently it’s been negatively impacting at least some of the nearby restaurants which are struggling to survive. They don’t have a permit and have been cited by the city but they’re simply writing off the cost of the fine as a business expense. A possible compromise would be moving the food truck to the curb alongside Splash Pad Park (except on Saturdays) where food trucks were licensed in the past.