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Progress! Oakland Planning Commission approves two high rise towers

This is a sign that the future development of downtown Oakland will include more housing and even higher densities with more traffic. But it's also a step in the right direction, decades overdue. Here's the Tribune account

Builders reach for the sky in downtown
Planning Commission approves two 22-story apartment buildings near Lake Merritt
By Cecily Burt, STAFF WRITER

OAKLAND — After years of low-rise residential construction, Oakland's push for higher density building downtown is finally paying off.
A practically giddy Planning Commission last week approved plans for two 22-story apartment buildings — one at 11th and Jackson streets and the other at 23rd and Webster streets.

The commissioners gushed over the designs, but more than anything, over the height and the density of the projects.

"After four years of approving four-over-two projects, this is a nice change," said Commissioner Mark McClure, referring to the glut of low-rise wood or metal-framed residential developments with four to six floors of housing over two floors of parking.

Back in 1999, Mayor Jerry Brown launched his "10K" plan to spur housing development to bring 10,000 new residents downtown. But building high rises carries financial risks, and some residential projects that started with tall towers were scaled down for financial or other reasons. Among them were City Walk by the Olson Company at 14th and Jefferson streets and Housewives Market by A.F. Evans at Ninth and Clay streets.

"(These newly approved projects) will start the momentum in high-rise development," McClure said. "It's a risk to build high rise and I thank these developers for taking a chance."
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