Oakland Comes Back to Life After Crippling Protests

Oakland Ferguson Protest (AP)
Oakland, CA

Following months of violent protests and occupation, Oakland is finally making a comeback. The city is slowly coming back to life and to some, the city is starting to look like San Francisco.

According to SiliconValley.com, gone is the 8-to-5, Monday-through-Friday downtown Oakland of the past; a past where sunset triggered the door locks and people staying indoors to avoid violence from Occupy and “Black Lives Matter” protesters. Now downtown is bustling with a young, hip working crowd that is reportedly bringing energy, money and jobs with it.

“We are seeing more leasing activity in downtown Oakland than we have seen in well over a decade,” Ryan Hattersley, who is the director of the Cushman & Wakefield commercial realty brokerage in Oakland, said to SiliconValley.com.

Sky-high rents, which have made living in San Francisco impossible for many, have also contributed to the growing appeal of downtown Oakland.

Pandora is headquartered in Oakland, as is Kaiser Permanente, and digital technology company Cerexa is one of a variety of tech industry firms which also have made the city their home base.

According to SiliconValley.com, key new developments include the planned restoration of the Sears building, and The Hive project which holds a mix of 104 residential units, 50,000 square feet of offices and 50,000 square feet of retail and restaurants.

The surge in downtown Oakland reportedly has its roots in an initiative known as the 10K plan that began in 1999 under then Oakland mayor, and current California Governor Jerry Brown. Brown believed having people live in downtown Oakland would bring life to an area that is often vacated at the end of the workday.

Oakland’s new Mayor Libby Schaaf is also seen as holding the baton to lead Oakland slowly back into a victory. Schaaf replaced Jean Quan as Mayor in January.

“All of these protests have had a bad impact on Oakland. The prior mayors, Dellums and Quan, encouraged these protests. But we have high hopes for Mayor Schaaf,” said prominent real estate developer Phil Tagami to SiliconValley.com.

Mayor Schaaf said that “Oakland sent a bad message” with the Occupy protests, while noting that “free speech is part of Oakland’s history and its future. But there is a clear line between peaceful protests and vandalism and violence.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Twitter: @AdelleNaz