Oakland project gets financial shot in the arm from China

150 150 Cheryl Getuiza

65 acres on the Oakland Estuary of SF Bay are ready for development. (Photo Credit: nautical2k)

If you build it, they will come—to the East Bay. That’s exactly what Oakland city leaders hope with the Brooklyn Basin project. The development is expected to be a big economic boom for the city and the region. The waterfront development recently received financial backing from a developer and investor from China.

Local developer, Signature Development Group and Beijing-based Zarsion Holdings Group Co. Ltd agreed to co-develop 65 acres on the Oakland Estuary of San Francisco Bay.

“One of the great, unique opportunities of my administration has been to introduce investors form China to the many amazing opportunities for them here in Oakland,” said Mayor Jean Quan. “Part of my job is to bring investments to the city and I am pleased to see that a large Chinese real estate developer and investor is smartly putting his money into the Brooklyn Basin master-planned community.”

The investor has agreed to write a check for $1.5 billion to turn 65 acres of industrial waterfront property into a thriving district of shops, parkland and high-rise homes.

The project will create 10,000 jobs, 3,100 residential units, 200,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 30 acres of parkland with a marina for 200 boat slips.

Breaking ground on the project has been more than a decade in the making. Twelve years ago, then Oakland Mayor Jerry Brown and the City Council approved it. In fact, it already had a certified environmental impact report, but it stalled without the financial backing.

“We share in the belief that a community-driven, collaborative approach to development produces the best results. In the more than 10 years since we were awarded the rights to develop Brooklyn Basin, the City and the Port of Oakland have worked side by side with us to deliver on the vision of a thriving, dynamic waterside community-an asset to all of Oakland,” said Signature Development Group president, Michael Ghielmetti.

The property, just south of Jack London Square, is not a pretty site. Many call it an eyesore that used to be a shipping terminal, storage facilities and a gravel business.

“When it’s done, it’s going to have a huge positive impact on the East Bay area and Oakland in particular, because it’s going to develop the area that’s kind of old and dilapidated and form it into something really valuable,” said Kish Rajan, director of the Governor’s office of Business and Economic Development.

Governor Jerry Brown announced the deal during his eight-day trip to China to market the Golden State as the place to do business and the place to invest. Not a bad way to kick off the trip.

“This is an exciting time for Oakland and we are pleased to see the largest approved mixed use masterplan in the city getting the financial backing it needs to move forward,” said the mayor.

“It is the first of what we hope will be many major investments as the Chinese business community recognizes the wealth of opportunities here in Oakland.”


Cheryl Getuiza

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