BCZ and Eden poised to build 119 affordable apartments in Oakland

Complex would include a Black cultural center on city land known as Liberation Park

BCZ and Eden to Build 119 Affordable Apartments in Oakland
BCZ Community Development's Carolyn Johnson and Eden Housing's Linda Mandolini with a rendering of plans for 6955 Foothill Boulevard, Oakland (Eden Housing, LinkedIn)

BCZ Community Development and Eden Housing may soon break ground on a 119-unit affordable apartment complex in East Oakland.

The Oakland-based nonprofit and the Hayward-based affordable housing developer have obtained construction permits to build the apartments and a cultural center on surplus city land at 6955 Foothill Boulevard, the San Francisco Business Times reported.

BCZ Community Development, based in East Oakland, filed plans in April 2022 to build the apartments on a 0.73-acre triangular parcel known as Liberation Park, with a ground lease from the City of Oakland for undisclosed terms.

The 1.1-acre park has been a gathering spot for the Black Cultural Zone Collaborative, licensed by the city to operate the property since 2020. The group aims to create a development for East Oakland residents to stave off gentrification of the Eastmont neighborhood.

Its BCZ Community Development affiliate is shepherding the development of the Black Cultural Zone cultural center and affordable housing complex at 73rd Avenue and McArthur Boulevard. The group aims to fund the project through tax credit financing, philanthropic donations and possibly commercial loans.

Plans call for 119 affordable studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, including eight with work space for artists, entrepreneurs and a family child care business. 

The apartments will be reserved for residents earning between 20 and 60 percent of area median income, with a quarter of them set aside for tenants with special needs, according to Eden Housing.

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The cultural center is expected to total 26,000 square feet, according to initial plans, and will include a food hall, event hall, music hall and a performance center, along with a rooftop event area. A parking garage will serve 36 cars. 

The russet complex, dubbed Liberation Park, is designed by Y.A. Studio, based in San Francisco. A rendering shows large corner windows, with balconies, with a tall mural at the tip.

BCZ Community Development was founded in 2019 by the East Oakland Black Cultural Zone, established five years earlier to promote Black arts, culture and economics within the 50 blocks from High Street to the Oakland-San Leandro border.

The nonprofit group wants to build 2,400 homes across 10 projects, and is now looking for more underused properties to build between 80 and 300 homes.

— Dana Bartholomew

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