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16-Story Residential Tower Proposed For Jack London Square

412 Madison Street, where a developer has proposed a 16-story tower. | Via Google 

By Will Kane - Published on August 07, 2017.

A Bay Area rental firm has proposed building a 294-unit tower three blocks from Lake Merritt BART.

The 16-story tower at 412 Madison Street would fit a pattern in Jack London Square of replacing industrial spaces—in this case a recycling center—with upscale market-rate rental units or condos. 

It could be many years before construction begins. The developers, San Mateo-based Essex and San Jose’s Swenson Builders, still need approval from Oakland planners. Architectural drawings were not yet available; the news was first reported by the San Francisco Business Times

"Oakland's proximity to San Francisco is highly desirable," Michael Schall, the CEO of Essex, told the Business Times. "Given the BART linkage ... owning in Oakland is a good thing.”

The proposal comes at a time when Oakland real estate is surging. In May and June, developers filed permits to build more than 900 units in Oakland, where the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is now $2397.

Councilwoman Lynette Gibson Mcelhaney, who represents most of Jack London Square, told Hoodline that while she wasn’t familiar with Essex’s proposal, she hoped the developers would offer condo units that could be purchased, not rented.

Schall told the Business Times that his company hadn’t decided if they would rent or sell the units. 

"What concerns me right now is Oakland becoming so renter-heavy; a deep imbalance,” she said. "I think that speaks to a kind of instability over time. What happens to the character of a community over time where it's only about rental housing?”

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