Groundbreaking at California Hotel

Jul 25, 2012

East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation (EBALDC) and Enterprise celebrate the groundbreaking of the California Hotel revitalization on Wednesday, July 25, 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Project partners Enterprise and EBALDC will welcome Mayor Jean Quan, California Hotel residents, project funders and community supporters. The groundbreaking ceremony will feature hardhat tours of the building, an exhibition of architectural designs, a screening of short documentary films about the hotel’s residents and live music.

Located at 3501 San Pablo Avenue, the California Hotel is a West Oakland landmark, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. Built in the 1920s, during its heyday the California Hotel played a prominent role in Oakland’s burgeoning jazz and blues scenes, playing host to performances by James Brown, Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Sly Stone, and Big Mama Thornton, among other music legends. The California Hotel faced financial troubles and ceased operations in 1971. In the 1980s, the abandoned hotel was converted into affordable housing by a new owner, Oakland Community Housing, Inc. (OCHI). Following the 2007 dissolution of OCHI, the residents of the California Hotel fought eviction from the building. As a result, the building was placed under the court-appointed trusteeship of Anne Omura, Managing Attorney of the Eviction Defense Center, who operated the building with limited funds, allowing residents to remain in their apartments. EBALDC acquired the hotel in 2011 and began a major rehabilitation project. After the project’s completion, the California Hotel will provide 137 affordable homes, as well as commercial and community facilities.

>>View photos from the event

EBALDC’s work on the San Pablo Avenue Corridor is a key component of the organization's Healthy Neighborhoods initiative, a commitment to transform Oakland’s disadvantaged neighborhoods into healthy ones where residents have access to stable housing, healthy food, services, and educational and employment opportunities. The vision of the project is that the revitalized California Hotel will serve as a beacon for a healthy neighborhood along the corridor. EBALDC Interim Executive Director Peter Sopka states, “EBALDC is excited to mark the progress of our efforts to revitalize the California Hotel. This important project is a symbol of our longstanding commitment to the San Pablo Corridor, and to fostering healthy, safe, and vibrant communities in Oakland and the East Bay.”

Of the project, Mayor Quan says, “For many years it has been a struggle to improve this blighted area of West Oakland. The transformation of this building into quality apartments and retail space is one of the most significant steps in the renaissance of this neighborhood. It will join the B-Side BBQ, newly painted murals, and the rest of the San Pablo Corridor initiative to drastically increase the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. EBALDC is a proven housing nonprofit that will ensure this is a neighborhood cornerstone long into the future.” Oakland Vice Mayor and District 3 Councilmember Nancy Nadel says that “The California Hotel is a key part of our strategy to help house people who are currently living on the street. The development will provide onsite services for residents so that they can address any health or other social service needs right at their residence. I am most grateful to EBALDC for taking on this important project.”

“Enterprise is honored to join with EBALDC and the City of Oakland in creating critical housing and a community of opportunity for low-income tenants,” says Rich Gross, Enterprise vice president and Northern California market leader. “The rehabilitation work will transform a long-neglected but beautiful building into a healthier, greener structure while preserving its historical significance.”