OWow aims for new heights on second resi tower in Oakland 

Revised 25-story project would be tallest mass timber building on the West Coast

oWow's Danny Haber; former plans at 1523 Harrison Street (oWow Design, Getty)
oWow's Danny Haber; former plans at 1523 Harrison Street (oWow Design, Getty)

OWow is piling on the wood in Downtown Oakland, with plans to boost the height of what would be the tallest mass-timber building on the West Coast.

The Oakland-based developer revised plans for a 25-story, 361-unit highrise residential project at 1523 Harrison Street, up from a proposed 20 stories and 256 units, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

The highrise would sprout from a half-acre lot next to a 19-story, 236-unit mass-timber residential project by oWow that’s now under construction at 1510 Webster Street.

“We’d like to keep pushing the limits of what’s allowable with mass timber,” Danny Haber, CEO of oWow, said of the Harrison project. It will include 18 stories of mass timber, the maximum allowed under the California Building Code, above a concrete podium.

The increased scale would also help preserve the project’s financial feasibility in an era of fast-rising construction costs, he said. 

The developer paid $9.3 million for the Harrison site in March of last year.

OWow plans to submit updated plans for 1523 Harrison next week, and aims to break ground next year.

Together, 1510 Webster and the revised 1523 Harrison projects would add almost 600 residential units to Downtown Oakland.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Even as the city’s core has seen thousands of new homes built over the last seven years, it’s struggled to recover the levels of foot traffic lost to the pandemic — a dynamic Haber says he believes could be improved by the addition of more residents to the area. 

“It’s chicken and egg, people have been saying that for a number of years, but density needs to support local small businesses,” he said. 

1523 Harrison remains in the entitlement process, Harris said. The revision to the Harrison plans will require a conditional use permit from the city of Oakland because of the project’s new size.  

The Harrison building would be clad in a two-tone mix of beige and white, and gray and white, with a cutout halfway up for a landscaped patio deck. Plans call for 15,000 square feet of office and retail space in each project.

OWow, which has its own in-house design studio, is keen on mass timber because of its efficiency: the material can be pre-fabricated and assembled with more speed, and less labor, than steel or concrete.

The developer could build a floor a week at its five-story mass timber project at 316 12th Street in Oakland, about the speed of “the best concrete people,” Haber has said. His goal is to reach a pace of two floors a week, creating a portfolio of units affordable by design.

Both towers will feature one- and two-bedroom apartments from 400 to 700 square feet, with standard layouts and floor plans that cut out dead space like foyers and hallways, he told the Business Times last August. Rents at 1523 Harrison could start in the high $1,000s.

— Dana Bartholomew

Read more

Rendering of 1523 Harrison Street, Oakland and oWow's Danny Haber (Illustration by Kevin Cifuentes for The Real Deal with oWow Design, Getty)
San Francisco
Mass-timber highrises coming to Downtown Oakland
oWow's Danny Haber and 1510 Webster Street in Oakland (oWow, Google Maps, Getty)
San Francisco
Developer drops offices at mixed-use project in Oakland
oWOW's Danny Haber with rendering of planned affordable residential project in downtown Oakland (oWOW, Getty)
San Francisco
Oakland apartment project to pioneer mass ply construction
Recommended For You