Builders pause apartment projects in Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin

Signature Development president: “There are no apartments starting anywhere right now”

Builders Pause Housing Projects in Oakland’s Brooklyn Basin
Signature Development's Mike Ghielmetti with rendering of Brooklyn Basin (Signature Development, Getty)

A 65-acre redevelopment of the Brooklyn Basin on Oakland’s waterfront has stalled as developers wait out an economic storm.

After Los Angeles-based CityView completes an eight-story, 378-unit apartment complex at 37 8th Avenue this month, developers say construction on the next phase won’t begin anytime soon, according to the San Francisco Business Times.

Mike Ghielmetti, president of Oakland’s Signature Development Group, said future construction for the project is on hold.

“There are no apartments starting anywhere right now,” Ghielmetti told the newspaper, citing the economic challenges facing commercial real estate. “The Bay Area is a great place and we’ll come back very strong.”

Brooklyn Basin, Oakland’s largest active project, is slated to bring more than 3,700 homes and  200,000 square feet of offices, shops and restaurants next to 30 acres of open space along Oakland’s estuary. 

The project, approved in 2006, has completed six of its planned apartment buildings, for a total 1,572 units.

Meanwhile, the number of apartments built across Oakland in the past seven years has grown by thousands of units, with more than 15 buildings popping up in Uptown and Downtown Oakland.

With the influx of supply, landlords of apartment buildings are trying to out-bid each other with rent promotions and concessions to attract tenants.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

With another 2,000 residential apartments planned for the area, Ghielmetti said he’s not “overly worried” about the rental market in Oakland.

“Anything that started today wouldn’t be delivered for two to three years. We’re not overly worried about the supply,” Ghielmetti told the Business Times. “Oakland will absorb a lot of its supply over the next probably 12 months, and so we don’t think that supply overhang will be there in two years.”

Signature Development, in partnership with Chinese investor Zarsion Holdings Group, has gradually sold off parcels of Brooklyn Basin to other developers, which expanded the project scope by 600 units. The developers agreed to pay the Oakland Community Land Trust $9 million to go toward affordable housing.

Ghielmetti said permits have been secured for parcels D, E and H, but construction is on hold indefinitely.

The stalled projects include a plan by Sacramento-based Anton DevCo to build an eight-story, 243-unit apartment building on parcel D and a plan by Signature to build a 280-unit apartment building with 24,000 square feet of shops on Parcel H.

Washington-based SRM Development also plans to build a seven-story, 191-unit senior housing complex with 36 memory care units on parcel E. 

With Oakland office vacancies at an all-time high, Signature last month sold a Downtown Oakland site approved for an 11-story office building for $3 million.

— Dana Bartholomew

Read more