Bloggers like Refin and Nancy Friedman have openly pointed to Oakland's chronic lack of retail venues during the holidays. Friedman writes...
It's prime shopping season, and my fair city is in a world of hurt. The weekend before last I attended a town meeting convened by my city councilwoman at which a consultant delivered the depressing news that Oakland is losing $1 billion a year in potential retail sales to neighboring cities. (In the trade, that's known as "leakage.")
Once upon a time, downtown Oakland was home to four major department stores, a big furniture store, and several swanky boutiques. The tide began turning in the 1980s, thanks to lackluster leadership, rising crime, and general cluelessness. The Loma Prieta earthquake, in 1989, delivered the coup de grâce. Some downtown structures were never repaired and remain vacant. Today Oakland, a city of about 400,000, has only one department store: Sears. To shop at Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Home Depot, Target, or Pottery Barn, Oaklanders must travel to Emeryville (pop.: 6,882), Albany (pop.: 16,444), Walnut Creek (pop.: 64,583), or, of course, San Francisco.
She's right. It's also why I pushed for an Uptown Entertainment District with a mall at its center - not housing -- when I worked for Elihu Harris. But Jerry Brown came in and altered the Forest City deal I spearheaded such that now, Oakland has financed and is seeing the construction of housing that when finished with be next to BART, where its dwellers can hop on a train and go to the Forest City retail development at Union Square.
The word "suckers" comes to mind again and again.
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