Oakland, Choose One Lake Merritt Development

In All, Planning & Design, Urban Inspiration, USA & Canada by Teju Adisa-Farrar

Project Lead: One Lake Merritt (1LM) [and community partners]

This project is currently in the petitioning stage. They are seeking support from the Oakland City Council and Oakland City Council Members to begin this project. The One Lake Merritt Development project (1LM) is local and has strong roots in community. It is important that whoever is chosen to redevelop the historic Oakland Civic Auditorium operates under values of inclusivity and community.

The Oakland Civic Auditorium, known as the Kaiser Convention Center, was built in 1914 and was closed by the city in 2006. Now developers are vying to reopen it, especially as Oakland becomes one of the most common cities on lists like: Best Cities to Live In and Most Exciting Cities. With gentrification being central to urban renewal in the Bay Area, this historic building can either become apart of that or combat that. As such, petitions like 1LM are great ways to have revitalization without gentrification.

As 1LM petition says, it is:

A joint venture between local partners, 1LM is a comprehensive and inclusive economic development project that embraces community benefits as the primary goal. 1LM’s inclusive economic stimulation works by engaging hospitality, arts & entrepreneurship to drive local growth & taxes.

Additionally, Randolph Belle, an Oakland-based developer believes his vision of the project:

…provides the kind of access (to jobs) that tech doesn’t, we need jobs that match the labor force as it exists right now — we would love to think that the tech industry was open and accessible to every resident in Oakland, but that’s not the case.

Belle makes an extremely important point because Oakland residents and natives who are not in the tech industry are finding it difficult to compete with the salary and job options of people in tech. Providing job options that match the labor force allow for Oaklanders to have jobs in their city that pay well and keep them local.

Other companies who are petitioning to develop this site have not released their plans and one of the major contenders is from the city of Emeryville, which is a part of the Bay Area–but it’s not Oakland. The 1LM project petition is a great example of how we, as Oaklanders, can support projects, organizations and people that want to improve Oakland but also keep what makes it so great intact and in place.

1LM is a community-based, inclusive development project to redevelop an historic Oakland building. If anyone is going to re-do the Oakland Civic Auditorium, I think it should be people from Oakland who are a part of the community and who will include our community. Please sign the petition and support 1Lm in their endeavor to bring the Oakland Auditorium back to life in our community!