Black Cultural Center, Affordable Homes Featured in East Oakland Site

OAKLAND — A black cultural center and more than 100 affordable housing units — some of which are workspaces for artists — could sprout in a prominent location in east Oakland.

The mixed-use development could add 120 affordable residences and a black growing area to a triangle-shaped parcel adjacent to downtown Eastmont at the confluence of 73rd Avenue, Foothill Boulevard and MacArthur Boulevard.

In addition to affordable homes, the development would also include a building dedicated to multiple uses that celebrate and showcase black culture, according to Carolyn Johnson, chief executive of BCZ Community Development Corp., which guides the development of the black cultural zone. complex and affordable homes.

“This place was abandoned for about 15 years,” Johnson said. “It reflects the abandonment of East Oakland.”

But all that could be starting to change, at least at the site of the proposed project, which is in a part of the city long overlooked by developers in favor of places like the city center and Jack London Square.

“It can show that we’re changing things,” Johnson said.

The cultural center is expected to total 26,000 square feet, according to documents filed with Oakland officials.

“It will be a food hall, an event hall, a music hall, a performance center and a center for black culture,” Johnson said. “We will have a rooftop event space.”

Of the 120 affordable housing units, 20 will be reserved as living and working spaces for “cultural entrepreneurs”, according to the preliminary application filed with the town hall.

“The 20 residences will be reserved for makers, artisans, artisans and others who want to live near where they want to activate their work,” Johnson said. “We will have arts, crafts, food.”

The cultural center building will also offer coworking spaces for the community.

The project would be developed on the current 1.2 acre Liberation Park site.

“We’re going to keep some of the elements and activities that are happening right now at Liberation Park,” Johnson said.

BCZ Community Development is attempting to negotiate with Oakland officials regarding ownership of the property as the project progresses.

“We are moving quickly to reach a development and disposition agreement with the city,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s organization aims to develop more similar sites in Oakland.

“We want to develop 10 of these black cultural area centers and this is the first,” Johnson said.

If the project can be developed, Johnson believes it would represent a turnaround for the neighborhood.

“From a Hope perspective,” Johnson said, “to be able to transform this asset means this community can do anything.”

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