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Why tech workers in San Francisco are buying homes in Oakland

FINANCIAL TIMES, May 27, 2016 – For most of the 20th century, Oakland struggled in the shadow of its more famous, fashionable neighbour, San Francisco. But, as real estate values have rocketed in the city across the Bay, Oakland has become a destination in its own right, appealing first to artists, techies, entrepreneurs and now, for the first time, high-end property developers.

“It’s a city that’s been very much overlooked in the past,” says Michael Ghielmetti, founder of Oakland developer Signature. “There have been only a handful of new projects brought to the market over the past five years — you could probably count the cranes on one hand — but that’s starting to change.”

Of the developments taking shape in Oakland, Ghielmetti has the largest: a $1.5bn mixed-use hub with office, retail and residential space on the southern waterfront. The project, called Brooklyn Basin, is clearly aiming for a regeneration akin to that in the New York borough it is named after, which has seen a meteoric rise in the past two decades. Brooklyn Basin is due to roll out in phases over the next 10 years and will include more than 3,000 apartments.

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